Rhubarb & White Chocolate Blondie

Beautiful, pink rhubarb is in season now and it’s tangy flavour pairs perfectly with sweet white chocolate. We tried baking it into blondies and oh yes, it works! There is some debate as to what blondies are, but to me, the best blondies are simply a white chocolate version of brownies. I’ve based this recipe on my classic vegan brownie recipe and it’s a fairly straight swap – brown chocolate for white chocolate – but the lack of cocoa powder means you must add some starch or the texture is all wrong. So don’t skip the cornstarch (you can replace cornstarch with arrowroot, potato or tapioca flour if you don’t have cornstarch).

Good blondie recipes call for browned butter, but if you are making this recipe vegan as I am below, then you’ll need to use Naturli butter as other vegan butters do not brown like dairy butter due to the lack of certain proteins and sugars. Naturli contains almond butter so has the right proteins to brown beautifully. Give it a try, I think you’ll agree it adds a delicious nutty, caramelised depth of flavour to the blondies that help to balance out the sweetness of the white chocolate. If you don’t have Naturli in the house you can just use another vegan butter or coconut oil and simply melt it rather than browning.

Here’s my easy recipe, enjoy!

Liz x

Ingredients (makes 12 slices)

  • 50g Naturli vegan butter block, browned (see method)
  • 250g chopped white chocolate (50g kept aside to decorate)
  • 100g brown sugar (our whole cane sugar works perfectly here)
  • 230ml oat milk
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 rhubarb stalks, cut into bite sized pieces

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a baking tin with baking parchment (I used a 20x28cm one).
  2. If you have our vegan block of Naturli butter in, you can brown it to create a nutty, caramel depth of flavour. If you are using another brand of vegan butter then just melt the butter, it will not brown. To brown the butter simply melt in a small pan, keep it swirling/stirring until it goes a gorgeous hazelnut colour.
  3. Then turn off the heat and tip in 200g of the white chocolate. Allow it to melt in the heat of the butter BEFORE stirring. Then add the sugar and milk and stir into a smooth, shiny caramel coloured sauce.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cornstarch, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Then pour in the melted butter, chocolate, sugar and milk and slowly whisk to just combine. Careful not to over-mix as that would activate the gluten in the flour and create tough blondies.
  5. Pour the batter into the lined baking dish and smooth out so that the corners are evenly filled. Then scatter over the reserved white chocolate and chopped rhubarb.
  6. Place the dish in the oven to bake until risen and golden. This should take around 30-35 minutes but ovens vary so check on it after 20 minutes. It is done when it is mostly set but still has a little wobble when gently shaken.
  7. Allow the blondie to cool in the tray then pop the tray in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight (this requires heroic patience). Cut into 12 pieces and enjoy!

The Best Crispy Tofu

Tofu is an amazing, versatile and healthy ingredient. We love using silken tofu to make scramble for breakfast or to place in wobbly cubes in a miso soup, it’s also great scored and dressed with soy sauce and sesame oil. We stock a delicious range of ready to eat tofus which are brilliant in sandwiches and salads or warmed up to go with your supper (our favourite is the wild garlic one and we also really rate the smoked one). But extra firm tofu is a brilliant blank canvas with a meaty texture. We love it thinly scored at an angle and cooked like a firm piece of fish with lemon, butter, salt and pepper. Our kids favourite way is like this, coated in well seasoned cornflour and fried until crisp. It’s just the thing to top noodle or rice bowls. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 x 200g block extra firm, natural tofu
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp seaweed flakes
  • vegetable oil for frying

Method

  1. Drain the tofu and cut it into cubes.
  2. In a wide bowl, mix the cornflour, salt, chilli flakes, sesame seeds and seaweed flakes (if you don’t have seaweed flakes you can leave them out or snip up a sheet of sushi nori).
  3. Tumble the cubed tofu into the seasoned cornflour and mix it well ensuring each piece is coated.
  4. Coat the base of a wide frying pan with a generous layer of vegetable oil, then heat to medium high.
  5. Add the tofu but space it out so that the pieces are not touching each other (you may need to cook in batches). Turn the pieces regularly so that they cook on all sides. They should be golden brown and beautifully crispy.
  6. Serve as you like. We topped a rice bowl and vegetable stir fry and added a drizzle of soy sauce and some kimchi.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Herb Braised Beans

We lean heavily on our pantry this time of year during the hungry gap (that time when Irish winter veg are finished and the summer harvests are still a little way away). Beans and lentils are so nourishing, cheap and filling – and they are climate friendly crops too. This is our favourite way to make a pot of white beans. We sometimes make it with dried beans when we have the time, but here is a quicker version with tinned beans for you. You can customise it as you like with greens wilted in at the last minute, top with roasted vegetables or just scoop it up with some good bread. So so delicious!

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 sweet potatoes – scrubbed & chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, sliced
  • 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • a whole bulb of garlic – cloves separated, peeled & sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a large handful of rosemary
  • 2 tins butterbeans or cannellini beans
  • a large handful of fresh thyme
  • a large glass of white wine
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped spinach or kale or another leafy green you like

Method

  1. Turn the oven to 200C and tumble your sweet potatoes into a roasting dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and chopped sage. Shake the dish to evenly coat the potatoes in the seasoning then pop it in the oven to bake while you make the beans. Depending on your oven and the size of your chunks, they should take around 20-30 minutes to cook through.
  2. Drain the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a pot. Then, using kitchen scissors, chop the sun-dried tomatoes up into strips. Then turn the heat under the pot to medium-high and add the sliced garlic, bay leaves and rosemary. Cook until the garlic is softening and starting to colour.
  3. Then tip in the 2 tins of beans and their liquid too. Add the white wine, thyme and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper then simmer gently for 15 minutes or so until the flavours have developed. Careful not to overcook the beans as they will turn to mush. Turn the heat off and let the beans rest while you wait for the sweet potatoes to cook through.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through and you are ready to serve, add the greens to the beans and warm them through. Serve in wide bowls topped with the roasted sweet potatoes and scoop up with bread if you like.

Carrot & Coriander Fritters

Chickpea flour (aka gram flour) is such a useful store-cupboard ingredient. Have you tried it yet? In Indian cuisine it is used to make savoury pancakes called dosas and to the make the batter for deep fried onion bhajis. At home we love to use it to make nutritious, delicious, protein-rich fritters all year round. Fritters are a great lunch option with a simple salad and a dip, or you can use them as sandwich fillers or burger alternatives. You can really make them your own with different vegetables and herbs/spices. Here’s one of our favourites, carrot and coriander.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 espresso mug of chickpea flour (around 8 tbsp)
  • 1 espresso mug of water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 grated carrots
  • a handful of fresh coriander
  • around 2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
  • natural yogurt, lime wedges and salad leaves to serve

Method

  1. Start with the batter. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, seasoning and water into a smooth batter.
  2. Grate the carrots and add them to the batter along with the coriander leaves. Stir well to coat the veggies in the batter.
  3. Heat a frying pan to medium with the vegetable oil. Make sure your pan is not too hot, chickpea flour batter can taste a little bitter if it is not cooked through so you want to cook it slowly so it’s not burned on the outside and raw in the middle.
  4. Dollop the batter into the pan in four even scoops. Fry the fritters for 5 minutes or so on each side or until they are golden brown on the outside and firmed up and hot inside.
  5. Then serve with salad, natural yoghurt and a good squeeze of lime.

Teriyaki Aubergine Rice bowl

We have some new organic, Asian sauces on our list now to make your meals even easier (and more delicious!) We are currently obsessed with teriyaki. It is sweet and salty and so full of flavour. Use it to marinade veggies or tofu and bake or stir fry. Here’s how I made this delicious week-night supper.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

Method

  1. Turn your oven to 200C and find a small baking dish.
  2. Get your brown rice on to cook (brown rice takes longer than white so if you are using white rice, start it after the aubergine is in the oven). Rinse the cup of rice through a fine sieve then add it to a small pot. Add 2 small cups of water, put the lid on the pot and turn it onto the highest setting. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn it to the lowest setting and leave the lid on. Let the rice simmer, it should absorb all the water in around 30 minutes or so and be perfectly cooked through. Keep an eye on it.
  3. Cut the aubergine in half, lengthways, then score the flat surface deeply with a small, sharp knife. Cut diagonal lines into the white, spongey flesh and then criss-cross the other direction. Careful not to cut too deeply.
  4. Spoon over the teriyaki sauce and, using the back of the spoon, rub it into the cuts to effectively marinade the aubergine. Place the aubergine, cut sides up, into the baking dish then bake until soft – this usually takes around 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your aubergine.
  5. Meanwhile stir-fry the broccoli and tofu together with the sesame oil and soy sauce/tamari.
  6. Then plate up, divide the rice, stir fry and baked aubergine between two bowls. Top with sesame seeds, chilli flakes and kimchi as you like. I also added shredded nori seaweed and an extra drizzle of soy sauce to my bowl. Enjoy!

Greek Potato Bake

There are so many ways to cook potatoes – boiled, chips, mash, roasties, soups, stews, gratin, jacket potatoes… but this Mediterranean-style way is one of my favourites. The rich tomato sauce and fragrant herbs make the humble, comforting potato into a summery dish which sings with flavour. I usually top it with some of my vegan tofu-feta or just some salty olives and bake it with the lid off for a little extra colour and flavour. Serve with a simple greek salad and a glass of wine – that’s dinner sorted.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • optional extra Med-veg eg courgette, peppers, carrots, aubergine
  • 10 medium potatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp each oregano, thyme, rosemary
  • olives/feta/capers
  • salad to serve

Method

  1. Start by making a rich tomato sauce. This can be however you like it but I usually sauté the diced onion in 2 tbsp olive oil until soft and starting to colour, then add crushed garlic and if I want to bulk it out, some chopped veg like an aubergine, pepper or courgette, maybe a carrot or two? Add the tinned tomatoes and swirl out any juices left in the tins into the pot with a bit of water. Season well with salt, pepper and a pinch of oregano and simmer until the sauce is rich – around 15-20 minutes. Blend with a stick blender, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt or pepper.
  2. Put the oven on to 200C and find an oven proof dish with a lid. Wash and thinly slice your potatoes into 3mm or so rounds.
  3. Place 1/2 the tomato sauce into the dish then arrange the potato slices on top. Then season the potato layer with salt, pepper and the herbs. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and then spoon over the remaining tomato sauce.
  4. Put the lid on and bake until the potatoes are soft. This usually takes at least an hour but check on it as ovens and potatoes vary.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove the lid and scatter over your topping of choice. Feta, olives, capers… Return the dish to the oven with the lid off to caramelise and get a little colour – just 5-10 minutes, keep an eye on it.
  6. Enjoy with salads or as a side to your choice of protein and greens.

Blueberry Clafoutis

We make versions of this clafoutis as a quick pudding so often, I have this recipe down by heart now. A clafoutis is a classic French dessert, traditionally made with cherries. This is my vegan version which the whole family adores. It uses up the aquafaba from a tin of chickpeas, such a useful, free ingredient. Next time you make a chickpea curry or a batch of hummus, save the aquafaba and make this quick pud. You won’t be disappointed!

We try to always have organic blueberries on our list as we strongly believe including anthocyanin-rich purple foods in your diet regularly is important. We have some great ones in from Spain at the moment which come in clever compostable packaging! Eat them fresh or pop them in the freezer to use daily in your smoothies, porridge or desserts.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • aquafaba from one can of chickpeas (around 150ml)
  • 1/2 mug sugar (around 100g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 mug of flour (around 200g)
  • 3 tbsp oat milk
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 mugs of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • a tsp of icing sugar to dust
  • plain yoghurt sweetened with maple syrup to serve

Method

  1. Turn your oven to 175C and find a flan dish, bowl, whisk and small mug for easy measuring.
  2. Pour the liquid from a can of chickpeas into the mixing bowl. It should be around 150ml but there’s no need to be too exact with this recipe. Whisk it until it froths. Then add 1/2 a mug of sugar and whisk again until you have a glossy, creamy mixture.
  3. Add the baking powder and salt and whisk for a minute to evenly distribute it before adding a mug of flour. Stir the flour in so you have a crumbly texture.
  4. Now add the milk and oil and stir until just combined into a smooth, thick batter. You can add a splash more oat milk if your batter is too dry. Careful not to over-mix to ensure a soft, tender crumb.
  5. Tumble the blueberries into the bottom of your flan dish and spread them out evenly. Then dot the batter on top and smooth it over. You may find it doesn’t reach the sides and looks a bit thin – don’t panic, it will grow and spread quite a lot in the oven.
  6. Bake until risen and golden – around 30 minutes but start checking after 20 in case you have a very efficient oven.
  7. Serve warm in scoops or messy slices with a dusting of icing sugar and a big dollop of yoghurt sweetened with maple syrup. Any leftovers are also delicious cold with a mug of tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Spinach & Tofu Curry

This plant based take on a saag paneer is so quick and easy, not to mention delicious and nutritious! Serve with rice and chutney for a midweek curry in a hurry or as a side with other curries. You can switch the spinach for our rainbow chard, just remove the stems, finely chop them and cook them along with the onion paste.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4 – or 8 as a side)

  • 2 blocks extra firm tofu (400g)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt (+ more if needed)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (heaped)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb ginger
  • 2 tsp garam masala (or your favourite curry powder)
  • 200g spinach
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • fresh chilli to taste

Method

  1. Cut your tofu into cubes and season it with the salt, pepper & ground turmeric. Then fry it in 1 tbsp coconut oil until golden. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.
  2. Blend the garlic, onion and ginger into a paste, then fry until browned in the other tbsp of coconut oil. Add an extra pinch of salt during frying. Then add the garam masala (or whichever curry spice blend you prefer) and stir to toast and wake up the spices.
  3. Pour just-boiled water over the spinach in a colander to wilt it. Cool it with cold water then squeeze into a ball. Chop the wilted spinach and add it to the pan with a splash of water. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the flavourful spices and fried onion/garlic/ginger into the sauce.
  4. Return the tofu to the pan and warm through with the lemon juice. Perhaps add another splash of water if the pan is drying out too much. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed with more salt or pepper.
  5. Serve with fresh chilli slices as a side to other curries or as a meal in it’s own right with just rice and chutney.

Instant Vegan Cheese Sauce Powder

For mac’n’cheese, cauliflower/broccoli cheese, layers in lasagnes or moussakas, cheesy mushroom and leek pies and more… This instant powder is so useful to store in your pantry to whip up a quick mid-week meal. Just add oat milk and a little olive oil or melted vegan butter.

Liz x

Ingredients

Method

  1. Measure all the ingredients into a jar and give it a good shake to evenly mix into a powder. If you don’t have mustard powder then leave it out and add dijon mustard or whatever mustard you like in the wet stage described in the next step.
  2. In a measuring jug, pour 100ml of oat milk per person. Then whisk in 1 tbsp of the powder and 1 tbsp of good olive oil (or melted vegan butter) per person. If you mix doesn’t have mustard powder, add a tsp of Dijon mustard per person too.
  3. Pour the mixture into a pot over a medium/low heat and whisk continuously until it is cooked through. It should be creamy, silky smooth and nice and thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to, then use the sauce however you like. Fold through cooked pasta, layer up in a lasagne or moussaka, pour over cooked mushrooms, leeks and butterbeans then top with pastry and bake… I always use this sauce for a cauliflower and broccoli cheese as part of our Sunday roast.

Spinach Pici Pasta

This is our new favourite way to eat spinach. Spinach is coming thick and fast out of our polytunnels now and we can’t get enough of this spring leafy green. Make your own easy pasta dough and marvel at the verdant green wriggly worms. It’s a fun recipe to make with kids over the Easter holidays too and if you have a fussy eater on your hands, this is a great way to get some greens into them. Serve with any pasta sauce you like – we love this with a simple buttery black pepper sauce, details below.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4)

for the sauce:

Method

  1. Put the flour, salt and spinach in a food processor with the S blade attachment. Blend into a green powder. Once it is evenly blended, keep the machine running and drizzle in the olive oil then a small splash of water. After a minute of blending the dough should form into a ball, if it is too dry and doesn’t ball up, add another small splash of water and keep blending.
  2. Tip the ball of bright, green dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. If your dough is accidentally too wet, add another sprinkle of flour and keep kneading until you have a smooth, soft green dough.
  3. Cut the dough in half and roll out to around 4mm or so thick. Cut the dough into thin strips then roll each strip into wriggly worms. You can cut them to whatever size you prefer. As you go, place them on a floured plate or tray and lightly dust with more flour to prevent them from clumping.
  4. Get a large pot of salted water on to boil then drop into the pici pasta and boil for just 4 minutes or so until tender. Drain through a colander then make the sauce in the pot.
  5. Place the butter, oil, cheese, lemon juice and black pepper in the pot and allow it to melt over a medium heat. Then give it a quick stir and tip the pasta back into the pot. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce and serve with extra black pepper and whatever sides you like eg protein, salads etc.