Picnic · Week Night Winners

Pizza Dough

Picture of a cooked mini calzone on a cooling wrack.
Calzone

Ingredients

  • 500ml of warm water
  • 1 packet of instant dried yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 900g bread flour (we use white but you could use a mix of half and half)

Method

  • In a large bowl add the water, yeast and sugar.
  • Stir and leave it for 10 minutes until it is all frothy!
  • Add the remaining ingredients and bring it together into a dough. It will be a little sticky
  • Kneed the dough until it is smooth and has no lumpy bits. It shouldn’t take more than 8 minutes. I do it in the bowl as the bowl we have is huge but you can tip it on to your workbench. Just don’t add too much extra flour.
  • Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm.
  • Leave it somewhere warm for 3 hours.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed for 30 seconds to knock it back.
  • Cut the dough in to 8 balls (for large pizza/calzone) or 16 small balls for lunch box sized.
  • Oil a large tray and pop the balls on the tray with room for them to double in size.
  • Cover them with a damp towel or clingfilm and leave for 2-3 hours until they have doubled in size.
  • You can then roll them out and make either calzone or pizza.
  • For calzone you pop the filiing in the middle then fold over and twist the edge together. Pop on a tray in to a hot pre-heated oven (200c/gas mark 6) for 20 minutes until golden.
  • For pizza roll out your pizza and place on the tomato sauce. Pop into a hot oven (200c/gas mark 6) for 4 minutes then take out and add all your toppings. Pop it back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until it is the level of crispness you like!

Tips and Cheats

If you want to make the dough in advance you can freeze it before the second proving or pop it in the fridge overnight after the second proving. Just bring back to room temperature and carry on from where you left off. You can add so many different toppings and fillings from savory such as mushrooms, and sweetcorn through to sweet calzone with vegan chocolate spread and banana (these are addictive so be warned!) The cooked calzone will last 2 days in the fridge and are really good cold on a picnic! To make the sauce we use 1/2 vegan red pesto to half tomato ketchup or we just use vegan green pesto (my favourite!). Enjoy!

Sweets · Cake · Little treats

Lemon Cake Bars

2 lemon cake bars stacked on a vintage plate on a wood worktop.
Lemon Cake Bars

Ingredients

  • 250g Self raising flour
  • 150g Caster sugar (plus 2 tablespoons for glaze)
  • Zest and Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • 70ml Sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 200ml Oat milk (or any milk you fancy)

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/180c.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, lemon zest and juice of 1 of the lemons, baking powder, oil and milk.
  • Beat until smooth. I use a whisk but you can use a wooden spoon.
  • Line 2 loaf tins (or use the same tin twice!) with baking paper.
  • Pour half the mixture in to each tin. You can pour it all in to 1 tin if you want a thicker bar.
  • Place into the hot oven for 25- 30 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • Whilst the cake cooks mix 2 tbsp of caster sugar with the juice of 1 lemon.
  • Once the cakes come out of the oven, whilst still in their tins, prick all over the top with a cocktail stick (about 20 times).
  • Drizzle over the glaze (half over each cake or all over 1 cake).
  • Leave to cool in the tin and then remove and slice in to bars. You should get about 6 bar from each tin.

Tips and Cheats

You can make this mix any flavour you want. If you want chocolate remove 30g of flour and add in 30g of cocoa. Just mix the cocoa to a paste with some of the milk before adding to the cake and remove the lemon! You can swap the lemons out for 1 orange or you can use vanilla or almond essence instead of the lemon. You want about 1-2tsp of essence! I wrap the cakes in a little baking paper and pop them in the children’s lunch boxes. Enjoy!

Soups and lunches · Week Night Winners

Lemon Pasta

Ingredients

  • 200g dried pasta
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 4tbsp grated Violife Prosociano Wedge (or vegan Parmesan) (a little extra for presentation)
  • 1.5tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • 200g tender stem broccoli chopped into 1 inch chunks

Method

  • Boil the kettle.
  • Place the dried pasta in a large pan with a pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Cook until tender or as packet suggests.
  • In a frying pan fry off the mushrooms then remove from the stoves. In the same pan add the broccoli and fry for a few minutes. Then add in a cup of boiling water and pop on a lid. Cook for a further 3 minutes until just cooked.
  • Drain the broccoli and put with the mushrooms on one side.
  • Meanwhile in a large jar add all of the other ingredients with 1 cup of the water the pasta was cooked in.
  • Pop the lid on the jar and give it a good shake!
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pan, add in the veggies and the contents of the jam jar.
  • Heat for a few minutes to bring it all up to temperature and then serve with a little more cheese on top and some nice crunchy salad.

Tips and cheats

I love this dish it is so light and its actually even better the next day cold for lunch like a pasta salad! You can add in any veggies you like but in this house mushrooms and broccoli rule. Its also a great dish in our camper van as it can be cooked on 2 gas hobs with limited pans!

Cake · Little treats · Sweets

Dandelion Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 200g dairy free spread (I use Vitalite)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 30g dandelion honey (if you haven’t made the honey then just use 30g more of sugar)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 20 dandelions – you just want the yellow petals.

Method

  • In a bowl cream together the butter, vanilla, dandelion honey and sugar.
  • Then add in the flour and dandelion petals.
  • Stir it together, you might need to get your hands in! Until it forms a soft dough.
  • Pop in to a covered dish in the fridge for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 / 200c.
  • Take the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out until is is 5mm thick.
  • Cut our your biscuits, we like them small but you can make larger ones!
  • Pop on to a baking sheet and into the oven for 8-10 minutes until they start to turn a light brown.
  • Take them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack until cool.
  • Store in an air tight container.

Tips and cheats

My children love to make these. They love to pull out the yellow petals into the bowl. They love to dip them into the dandelion honey to eat them too! (Sugar overload!). They keep for a few days but are best fresh and they are just so buttery and light. They look so pretty on the plate too.

Cake · Recipes · Sweets

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 220g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml oat milk (or any dairy free milk)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white or cider vinegar

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/180c
  • Put all of the ingredients in to a large bowl and beat to a smooth batter. I always do this by hand.
  • If making cupcakes place 12 paper cases into a cupcake tin.
  • Split the mixture equally between the 12 cases.
  • Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool before topping with chocolate buttercream!

Tips and Cheats

If you don’t fancy cute cupcakes you can split the mix between two 7inch cake tins and cook at the same temperature for 25 minutes. or you can pop in to a tray for a tray bake and cook for 40 minutes. It is so versatile! I like to chuck in cherries sometimes or nuts or even dark chocolate chips! As with all cake it is best served fresh!

Cake · Sweets

Cherry and Marzipan Cake

Ingredients

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml oat milk (or other dairy free milk)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white or cider vinegar
  • 200g marzipan
  • 200g glace cherries

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/160c
  • In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, and vinegar and beat into a smooth batter. It doesn’t take long so it is super easy by hand,
  • In an 8 inch tin add a layer of baking parchment to the bottom. The tin will need fairly deep sides.
  • Pour in about 1/2 of the cake batter.
  • Roll out the marzipan in a disc the size of your tin and lay over the cake batter .
  • Chop the cherries in half and add on top of the marzipan in an even layer.
  • Pour over the rest of the cake batter making sure all the cherries are covered.
  • Pop the cake into the oven and cook for 50 minutes. It may need a little longer if a skewer doesn’t come out clean.

Tips and Cheats

This cake is so good warm from the oven. It is also good a day old with lashings of custard! (Birds custard powder is vegan!) If you want a more almond taste, or don’t have marzipan you can either add almond essence in place of the vanilla, or you can swap out 1/2 of the flour for ground almonds. This does result in a heavier cake! However, you eat it enjoy it!

Week Night Winners

Alison’s Curry (Saag Aloo)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 small sweet potatoes peeled and chopped in to 1cm chunks
  • 2 baking potatoes peeled and chopped in to 2cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 ½ tbsp dandelion honey/agave syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Frozen spinach, I used 6 pieces

Method

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add in the cumin seeds, onion and garlic. Sauté on a medium heat until they are starting to go translucent.
  • Add in all of the ground spices and fry off for a minute or two to release the flavour.
  • Add in the coconut milk, tomatoes, water, potatoes, tomato puree, dandelion honey and salt.
  • Stir well.
  • Pop on a lid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes until the sweet potato has turned almost to mush and the baking potato is soft but not mushy! (You don’t want a bowl of curried mash potato!)
  • Add in the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve with rice!

Tips and Cheats

My dearest friend Alison cooked this for me and my children and there were empty plates. I have honestly craved it ever since! The children even ask for it! It helps that my son is Popeye and loves spinach and curry. This isn’t a spicy dish more flavourful but if you wanted heat by all means add in some cayenne pepper to suit or even some fresh chili. I like to make homemade flat breads with this dish and serve it with nice fluffy rice. It is great the next day to and freezes well. If you do not have frozen spinach you can add in a small bag of fresh spinach (I much prefer this!). Enjoy!

Recipes · Sweets

Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
  • 70ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 200ml dairy free milk (I use oat milk)

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to gas mark 5 or 180c.
  • Put all of your ingredients in to a mixing bowl and beat together. I like to use a Norwegian flat whisk but a wooden spoon or regular hand whisk will be fine too! You need a smooth-ish batter (no lumps of flour thank you!)
  • I then line two 7 inch cake tins (just the bottom) and split the mixture evenly between them.
  • Pop the tins in to the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and leave it in the tin for a couple of minutes then transfer out to a cooling rack.
  • Once the cakes are cooled you can fill with jam. I love strawberry or raspberry jam! If you are feeling luxurious you could even add cream or buttercream!

Tips and cheats

This cake can’t really get any easier! It is a chuck it all in give it a beat and bake kind of cake. I am sure Mary Berry wouldn’t approve but it works and the kids love it too. It keeps for a couple of days in a tin too (if there is any left!) Enjoy!

Recipes · Week Night Winners

Hot Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 2 blocks of frozen garlic or 6 large cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes diced (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 tin of drained chickpeas (or any bean I actually prefer black beans!)
  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard (any but I like Dijon!)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice (the bottled stuff is mighty fine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spring onions and fresh herbs to garnish if you are feeling fancy

Method

  • In a large pan with a little oil soften the garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
  • Then add in the tomatoes and chickpeas or beans and cook on a medium heat stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the rice and spinach for a further 5 minutes until the spinach wilts.
  • In a small bowl mix the peanut butter, lemon juice and mustard to a paste and then stir it in to the main pan.
  • Finally season to taste and when serving sprinkle on some spring onions and maybe fresh parsley.

Tips and cheats

I love this dish hot or cold but hot it makes a great accompaniment to a vegan burger and gherkins or even just on its own in a big bowl. Rice and beans together make a great protein source and with the added veggies you have some vital vitamins too. Who knew comfort food could be so good for you?!

Recipes · Week Night Winners

Veggie Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion (I use frozen!)
  • 1 block of frozen garlic (Again I buy it frozen but a couple of fresh cloves will work too)
  • 2 medium potatoes diced into 2cm cubes
  • 2 medium carrots diced in to 2cm cubes
  • 300g mushrooms chopped in to chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small tin of sweetcorn drained
  • 1 pint of gravy (I like the Sainsburys vegetable one)
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry. (Most are vegan but do check, I use Jus Roll or Aldi)

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to hot! About gas mark 8/220c
  • Place some oil in a large pan and gentle soften the onion, garlic, potato and carrot. Stir so it does not burn for 5 min.
  • Add in the gravy and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat
  • Stir in the rest of the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from the heat and spoon the mix into a pie dish.
  • Top with the ready rolled pastry and press down on the edges of the dish to make a seal. You can brush with melted vegan butter for a touch of luxury but I don’t usually!
  • Place in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until the pie is a lovely golden brown.
  • I like to serve it with mashed potato and tender stem broccoli.

Tips and Cheats

You can pretty much add anything you want into this pie! My kids love it and we always get empty plates. If you have left over roast veggies you can use those and just chuck into hot gravy and place in the pie dish. You might have gathered that most of my cooking is chuck it in and hope for the best type of cooking and it really is. I hate waste and generally try to use up what is left in the fridge. I would however avoid cabbage inside the pie and opt for it as a side dish!