Almond pepper dip

Hubby and I found we were accidental vegans on Sunday. No we didn’t get pointy ears – that’s vulcans – we just didn’t get round to eating any meat.

I made some beetroot crisps and some Corn Kale Chips. I served them with guacamole and my new invention, Almond Pepper Dip.

almond pepper dip

The black things at the bottom are beetroot crisps. The corn kale chips have a healthy portion of flax seed in them, so more estrogen-busting compounds.

After we’d scoffed that we didn’t have room for the chicken stir-fry I’d planned. Plus we’d had about 12 of our 5-a-day!

Almond pepper dip
100 g blanched and skinned whole almonds
Juice from 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
Flavouring – see note below*
6 black peppercorns
12 szechuan peppercorns
Salt and pepper to taste

*Flavouring: I dried 1 yellow bell pepper and half a red bell pepper in my new dehydrator and ground it to a powder (home-made paprika, I guess). It would have worked as well with a couple of heaped teaspoons of paprika, or possibly a pepper that had been grilled to blackness and then skinned.


  1. Grind dried bell peppers and both types of peppercorn in a spice grinder/pestle and mortar
  2. Put everything into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Be careful with the water! It’s easy to make it too runny. Start with 1 tbsp and add more as required.

Fruity knickerbocker glory

Not so much a recipe as a serving suggestion, using the fabulous sorbets and ice creams you can make instantly in a Vitamix liquidiser.

You can pack at least 5 of your 10-a-day in here, plus use soya milk for the lactose intolerant.

Fruity, good for you, kickerbocker glories

These are composed of

  • apricot and peach ice cream
  • banana and apple ice cream
  • fresh cherries, pitted
  • blackberry coolie (we have a glut of blackberries at the moment! I heat them minimally in a saucepan until they have broken down, then rub them through a sieve and add the smallest amount of sugar possible to make them palatable. I can’t be doing with this ‘no sugar’ thing.)

I’ve scaled down the ice cream proportion from the original Vitamix recipe. It was too frightening trying to stuff those amounts of fruit onto the flashing blades!

I use:

  • 300g frozen fruit
  • 160mls water or fruit juice for sorbets, soya milk for ice creams.

This is a wonderful way to use up surplus fresh fruit. You know when you get those 2-for-1 offers in the supermarket you can’t resist, then a few days later having to throw away the bit you never got round to eating? Cut it into chunks and freeze it. It doesn’t matter if it goes floppy or discolours a bit – you’re only going to smash it to smithereens.

Using water in the sorbets can make them a bit, well, watery. I’m starting to use juice, like red grape juice or cranberry. That also ups my intakes of the red berries that are supposed to starve cancer, and add natural sweetness, so it’s all good.

Using soya milk makes an extraordinarily creamy ice cream! Wonderful stuff, especially when you realise it’s mainly composed of two thirds liquidised fruit. It honestly tastes like it’s got cream in it.


Breakfast for a vegan king!

Breakfast of 3 fruits and seeds

1 apple
3 dessertspoons plain soy yoghourt
a dash of honey
1 tbsp raisins
1 banana
scattering of favourite seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and linseed)

This breakfast is HUGE and blasts you off with 3 of your 10-a-day.

  1. Peel and grate the apple (healthier to leave it unpeeled, but I found the end result too fibrous for my liking).
  2. Mix with yoghourt, honey and raisins.
  3. Top with sliced banana and a scattering of seeds of your choice.

Eat slowly, then rest for half an hour!

You can ring the changes depending on what you have available. My picture has a handful of blackberries instead of the raisins. Cinnamon added to the apple mix, and a dressing of blackberry coolis is nice and give it a ‘pie’ kind of atmosphere!

Orange pumpkin cake

Orange pumpkin cake

I was trying to make cakes for my art group that reflected the subject each session. After a good start of pairing painting pumpkin still lifes with pumpkin jam-filled Ensaimada, and apple cake with drawing apples, things went a bit off track.

This week we did ‘light and shade’, and I realised afterwards I’d accidentally followed the theme with ‘dark’ chocolate beetroot cake and ‘light’ Orange pumpkin cake, my recipe. Here’s my recipe:

200g sugar
200g butter (or marge)
200g self raising flour
4 eggs
1 orange, grated rind and juice

100g butter
3 tbsps icing sugar
2 tbsps pumpkin jam

  1. Butter 2 sandwich tins. Cut a circle of baking parchment for each and place in the tins, then butter this, too.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, beat in orange rind.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, and beat thoroughly.
  4. Stir in flour and orange juice. This makes a loose, dropping constancy, and makes the cake nice and moist.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes at C180°.
  6. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Cut each cake in half, horizontally, and sandwich together with generous amounts of pumpkin jam.
  8. Beat butter, sugar and jam together to make a butter icing, and apply to the top of the cake. (The pumpkin jam gives the icing a lovely orange colour). Make swirly patterns with a fork.


I’ve just received my ‘Designasausage’ kit. It was the prize for December’s ‘Cultivate, Cook and Click’ by ‘We Grow our own’. Sadly, I won by default as I was the only entrant. Still, that’s marginally better than hubby getting second prize in Brixham Horticultural Society’s Autumn Show for his carrots, even though his was the only entry.

I’m excited about using the kit! The filling process looks like a two-person job. I’ve got the Lincolnshire flavouring mix. I might add some finely minced brandy-soaked dried apricots to the mix, just to make it my own.

I’ll put a picture on here when I’ve sausaged.

In the meantime, here’s the daughter’s dog with a cake on her head…

Dog with cake on her head


I’m old enough to remember the traditional British menu plan. Roast on Sunday, cold meat and fried potatoes on Monday, cottage pie on Tuesday…etc, etc… fish on Friday.

Try as I might to avoid this myself, I find, from time to time, my menu plan centrifuges down to a woefully small number of dishes. When I find we’re getting round to spaghetti Bolognese every five days I try to take action and spread my wings a bit. This week I decided it was time to try some new flavours.

I have special difficulty thinking about British recipes. I get stuck with a traditional Sunday roast, which really isn’t one of my favourite meals. I was impressed with the Hairy Bikers’ Scotch broth, and decided to try it out. It was delicious. The thyme and bay leaf gave it a really rich scent which permeated the whole house, and the lamby soaked pearl barley was sticky and gorgeous.

The lamb was soft and moist, and there was plenty left over to make some minty rissoles which I tried to give a real Mediterranean kick by serving with Couscous and my own version of hummus.

Then I blasted the tastebuds with a completely different set of flavours from Japan, with my Lottie Sushi, followed by the Hairy Bikers’ Poppy Seed Tempura with Soba noodles and dipping sauce. It was lovely – really different flavours! I particularly enjoyed making some ‘shichimi’ (ground chilli, schechuan peppercorns, sesame seeds and orange peel) for sprinkling on the noodles. Wow! The Japanese like their heat in a truly original way – in hot pockets in amongst lots of bland rice! It’s a digital approach to spicing – either on or off!

Tonight we’re having Tuscan bean and squash soup with Cornbread. I’ve never made Cornbread before, so that should be interesting.

I thought I would get this lot blogged for the next time I get stuck in a three recipe rotation. Life’s too short to be bored.

Pizza Brixhamara

Pizza with Brixham fishing boat

The best of life in Brixham!

This is my kind of meal! Everything fresh, grown, recycled, found or gifted!

At this time of year, sprats are fished in the area. The seagulls know what time the boat is coming back in (how do they know?) and go out to meet it, so I was ready with my camera when I saw them flocking out to sea. Sure enough, within a few minutes, the sprat boat hove into view, complete with every seagull in Brixham in tow.

Actually, if the sea were warmer, I would be following the boat too, like a large seal!

We’ve been lucky and have occasionally been given a mixed bag of sprats, anchovies and herrings. And when I say ‘bag’, I mean shopping bag held under the boat hopper and filled with about 20 pounds of quivering silver beauties!

This time the herring were full of roe and I was able to have a delicious fried roes on toast for lunch, as well as a freezer full of fish.

Anyway, back to ‘Pizza Brixhamara’, which is more of an idea than a recipe.

My greenhouse tomatoes are still ripening – amazing when it’s nearly December! I had about a kilo, which I chopped and sweated with a couple of cloves of garlic and olive oil until they were well broken down (about 20 minutes). I pushed this mixture through a sieve. That’s essential at this time of year because the tomato skins are very tough, and if not removed they roll up and stab your throat like pine needles. Not nice.

I returned the ‘passata’ to the pan, added a splash of Balsamic and a teaspoon of brown sugar, and simmered until reduced down to a thick sauce.

I used leftover mashed potato to make two bases. I added 1 egg, then self-raising flour until I achieved a pastry-like consistency. This was the pushed and patted into pizza bases and cooked in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I then spread the tomato paste on the bases. I had way too much, so I put half of it on, then gave it a blast in the oven for 5 minutes, took it out, added the rest of the sauce and blasted it again for a further five minutes. These little miracles are VERY tomatoey!

Pizza base, ready to freeze

Pizza base, topped with tomato that has been reduced and double baked to make it even MORE tomatoey!

At this point I cooled one of the bases down and froze it for future use. To the other I added sliced mozzarella, fileted fresh anchovies and capers*, then drizzled it with some anchovy paste which I’d loosened with some olive oil. Whack it in the oven for a further 15 minutes, and serve. It’s a perfect mix of crisp, sweet, salty, and creamy, with a taste of the ocean. I always think I’m only going to eat half of it, but I usually go back for seconds and end up eating it all.

* Actually, my capers were pickled nasturtium seeds that I’d rescued from my hanging baskets. They’re not entirely successful this year, having a great flavour but being a bit crunchy!

So, a real taste of Brixham, which only cost me the price of the mozzarella (Sainsbury’s Basics, 41p). That titillates my tightwad taste buds!