Sunday 20 December 2020

Cashew nut loaf, potato croquettes, halloumi and orange salad and a mincepie star.

Many years ago, my friend Pat gave me this Cashew nut loaf recipe as my first ever vegetarian Christmas meal. We all liked it, veggies and meat eater alike, so thought to share it with you too. I have included it into my 4th from Spade to Plate book, that is getting well on the way.


1 chopped onion

Oil from the sun dried tomatoes

200g ground cashew nuts

12 finely cut sun dried tomatoes

1 can of chopped peeled tomatoes

Rind of lemon

1 spoon of fresh basil

1 egg

Salt and pepper

1 packet of puff pastry


  1. Fry the onion in the sun-dried tomato oil
  2. Add the can of chopped and peeled tomatoes and leave until the juices have evaporated, then remove from heat
  3. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, lemon, nuts, basil, salt and pepper and most of the egg (keep some behind to put over the puff pastry)
  4. Mix together thoroughly and put in a loaf tin
  5. Bake in over at 180ºC for 45 mins
  6. Let it cool down completely.
  7. Roll out the puff pastry large enough to wrap around the loaf.  
  8. Then if you feel in the mood to do some fancy decorative skill, do that now. Haha Glaze the pastry with the left over egg.
  9. Put back in the oven until the puff pastry is golden brown and puffed up. (about 20 minutes)
Pear Shaped Potato croquettes

Although they are easy to make they take more than one and a half hour for chilling so something to be aware off. We won't be able to do the whole recipe in our 40 minutes Zoom session


600 g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 egg

1 egg yolk

60g parmesan grated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

plain flour for coating

1 egg lightly beaten (extra)

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

2-3 strands raw spaghetti


  1. Boil the potatoes and turn into mash potatoes, include the eggs, egg yolks, parmesan, parsley until soft, while the potatoes are still hot.
  2. Divide into 12 portions, put on a tray, cover and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Shape the potato portions into small pear shapes and coat each in the flour, egg and then the breadcrumbs
  4. Break the spaghetti into small lengths and insert one piece into the top of each pear shape to represent a stalk
  5. Put back into the fridge to firm up.
  6. Then put in the oven until golden brown around 20 minutes.
  7. Serve hot or warm
We also made the Halloumi, carrot and orange salad. A fresh and tasty salad that went well with the Nutloaf and potato croquettes.

For dessert we made a mincep ie star which we had with a lovely cup of Chai.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday 19 December 2020

Christmas coffee morning - Book launch

Over the last few weeks,  have been finishing my 4th From Spade to Plate recipe book. Lovely to see these pictures from 2 years ago when we launched the first book .

Today was such an exciting day as it was the launch of the first From Spade to Plate cookbook.
It was lovely to see how much my friends enjoyed them, even though we have already spotted a few mistakes!  So the 2nd edition will be in the making.

I made some hot apple Christmas juice, with puff pastry mince pies, anise biscotti and an amazing strawberry Christmas star. To be honest I was surprised myself. Here is the link on how to make it.
The anise biscotti are included in the cookbook.

Spinach Christmas tree

A week ago in 2018  we had another lovely young chef. Isadora (aged 4) came with her mother Lu to show off her cooking skills. She was so helpful and made the From Spade to Plate cooking activity so different.

A few weeks ago, I promised to make marmalade with the group, as it is so easy (as we use Mamade) and quick and not something we could have for lunch.


we made a Spinach Christmas tree to go with the Soup

We went into the garden to harvest the carrots to make a simple but delicious Carrot Soup 
We added potatoes, (peeled by Isadora)   carrots, an onion to the pan, covered it with stock and after 20 minutes when the vegetables were soft, we pureed it into a lovely soup. This time we did not have bread with the soup but these lovely looking and delicious tasting Spinach, cheesey bread sticks.  With the left over pastry and spinach mix we made some savoury 'tortolini' shaped puffs. Easy to eat and very tasty with the soup.        

Friday 18 December 2020

Testing for the recipe book - crepes, biscuits and a pumpkin soup

Those were the days. This weekend  2 years ago, Andrea came to help figure out how to publish the cookery book and came with a Pumpkin so we decided to turn this one into .... Pumpkin Soup. To be honest our 5 spice recipe in which we normally use butternut squash, would have been much better. So won't give the recipe we used as it was a little mediocre.  Use the Butternut squash and 5 spice recipe instead substituting a pumpkin.

In addition we made some Christmas biscuits, three different types. The Honey jumbles, we changed into heart shapes, The thumb print  biscuits and the puff pastries christmas trees came out well and were quick and easy to make.

For the Christmas trees, take a pre-rolled sheet of puff pastry, sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar, cut a 1 cm strip from the short side of the sheet and layer over it self, zig zagging and reducing the width, resembling a Christmas tree. Pierce a cocktail stick through the top to the bottom and follow the rest of the recipe.

Whilst all this was being made we tested the Cheese ball share and tear bread. I prepared the bread dough before hand to speed things up. We used a mature Cheddar cheese to put inside but think a blue cheese might have been nice too.  Apart from it tasting so lovely, it looked attractive too (even though I say it myself)

Simone was in charge of the Crêpes Suzette and turned this basic ingredients into a scrumptious desert. We used  hot melted butter and Marmalade to make the sauce, to pour over the crêpes but for those who like a tipple, a little orange liqueur added to this sauce would be very nice too.

Lu, Asako, Sayaka, Simone and I worked hard to fit in so many lovely recipes in just 2 hours, the end result was well worth it though.

Monday 7 December 2020

Brussels Sprout soup with a Camembert Snowflake

Having had some leftover Brussels sprouts, we turned them into a delicious Brussels Sprout Soup.

It was quick and easy to make, a great standbye recipe for the days after Christmas dinner.

As a sharing plate idea  I showed how to make the Camembert Snowflake.  For those of you who might like to make it but are not ready to eat it and you want to wait for a larger group of people to share it during the festive season. You can make the whole dish beforehand and freeze instead of putting it in the oven. Bring it out of the freezer a few hours before you want to put it in the oven, and you have yourself you Merry little Christmas.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Mushroom Bourguignonne with Mash potatoes and a chocolate raspberry Roll

 Unfortunately I did not manage the time as well as I should have as about 1 minute before the end of the cooking time, our Zoom call was cut short.

However, it was lovely to see Melendra, Meghan and Bella who joined me in the cooking session. 

It was a little ambitious to make 3 dishes in a 60cm x 50cm space (plus hob space). By the time we were finished, the area behind the camera was like a bombshell had hit it. The food however tasted very moorish. 

 The Mushroom Bourguignon went well with the mash potatoes.

 The chocolate roll came out well. I added a layer of raspberry jam on top of  the sweetened cream cheese. Due to being slightly rushed, the roll had not cooled down enough to put in the filling, so the cream cheese started to melt. Next time, make sure the cake is totally cooled down before you add the filling.

Other than that.  Great recipe for winter nights and the chocolate roll went well with a cup of coffee.

This one will end up in the next Zoom Cookery book!


Monday 30 November 2020

Broccoli and Blue cheese soup with coriander and tumeric soda bread

 During today's zoom meeting we made 

The recipes we used are listed below so that if you could not make the session,  you can try and make it at your leisure.

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup


1 large onion chopped
1 large potato chopped

·       1 litre vegetable stock

·       1 large head of broccoli roughly chopped

·       100g blue cheese stilton preferably

·       1 tablespoon vegetable oil

·       Salt/pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped onions, and cook gently until softened.

Add the potatoes broccoli and stock bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

 add half the cheese, and blend until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve with the remaining cheese crumbled on top.


For the Soda Bread


·       coriander seeds 2 tsp

·       Plain flour 450g, plus extra for dusting

·       ground turmeric 2 tsp

·       bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp

·       fine sea salt 1 tsp

·       butter 25g, diced and chilled

·       rolled porridge oats 75g

·       spring onions 4, finely sliced

·       kefir / yoghurt 375ml



Toast the coriander seeds in a small pan for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant, then lightly crush using a pestle and mortar. Leave to cool while you make the dough.

·       STEP 2

Mix together the flours, turmeric, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt in a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub in the butter cubes until only small crumbs remain. Stir in the porridge oats, spring onions and coriander seeds. Pour the kefir/ yoghurt over and use a knife or  to quickly mix in. Tip everything out onto a lightly floured worksurface and use your hands to gently knead into a smooth-ish dough. Shape into a 20cm round loaf with a flat top, and lift onto a flour-dusted baking sheet. Use a small, sharp knife to score a deep cross into the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until crusty and the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack while wrapped in a tea towel to soften the crust.



Tuesday 24 November 2020

Spinach, Sweet potato and coconut stew on a bed of rice and roti.

 We have just finished today From Spade to Plate Zoom meeting. The link is the same every Wednesday from 5.15pm until 5.55pm  Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 843 0211 8713
Passcode: Plate


Today we made spinach, sweet potato and coconut stew on a bed of rice and we also made some roti.

Lovely to see Meghan straight from the US, a new member Viola joined us from Berlin and always great to see our Cambridge Friends, Melendra, Bella, Naheed, Thomas, Mireia, Haruna,  too.

Monday 16 November 2020

Our first Zoom Meeting! Thai butternut Soup and Scones,

 Nervous but excited as today will be the first (hopefully of many) Zoom meetings with my friends.

As due to lockdown we cannot do From Spade to plate, I wonder if this may be a little alternative to see my friends and do some cooking at the same time.

First surprise:  We had  visitors from abroad, Seiko from Tokyo  and Karina from Bonn join us. Carmen, June, Julie and Consuelo joined in as well.

We made Thai butternut soup, with some cheese scones. The original recipe came from Alice, who used to do an English Tea and served fluffy home made scones with clotted cream and jam. I changed it to be savoury but still they come out fluffy and light. 

As today was not an oven day, I baked them in a pan on the stove.

Alice's Scones


225g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoon salt

50g frozen butter 

1 small egg 

125ml plain yoghurt

150g crumbled feta cheese

2 spring onions, chopped, or herbs or chilli flakes (optional)

A little milk to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt through a fine sieve into a bowl.
  3. With your fingers, rub in the grated frozen butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the crumbled cheese and chopped spring onion.
  5. Whisk the egg into the yoghurt with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the liquid and stir again with a fork, making a soft dough.
  6. Gather the dough in well-floured hands and knead very lightly. On a floured surface, press out the dough with a rolling pin to not less than 1.25cm thick.
  7. Using a 5cm glass or ring cutter, firmly cut out the scones. Gather up the scraps, kneading them together to more scones. 
  8. Transfer the scones to a well greased baking sheet. With a pastry brush wipe the tops of the scones with milk mixture.
  9. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until well-risen and golden brown.
  10. Makes 6-8 scones depending on the size of cutter.
We also made some yoghurt. I normally do this using milk delivered in  returnable glass bottles so that we reduce plastic containers

How I make yoghurt 


2 cups  whole milk

2 tablespoons plain greek yoghurt


  1. In a saucepan, over low heat bring the milk to a simmer. It will take around 15-20 minutes. The freshest milk will yield you better yogurt.
  2. Once it starts to bubble turn off the heat and set aside. You notice a skin has formed on your milk, that is normal.
  3. Let it cool down to the blood temperature. You can test by place your finger in there and if you can’t feel the milk around your finger then it is at blood temperature.
  4. Once cooled whisk in the yogurt.
  5. Pour into a sterilized jar and tightly close the lid. Line a deep bowl with a thick tea towel and place in the jar of yogurt. Wrap the jar up well in the towel and let it sit out in a warm part of your kitchen over night.
  6. After this time, pop the jar in the fridge and let it get cold, roughly 2-3 hours. Once chilled your yogurt will be firm and thick in texture.
  7. Before you add anything, keep a couple of spoonfuls aside for the next batch. At this point you can add sugar, sweetener, honey, fruit and vanilla.
  8. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Monday 9 November 2020

Pumpkin Pie and a Kale and Cauliflower salad

Haruna making the pumpkin pie filling

 Last week we had a huge butternut squash that provided us food for 6 of us in the form of a soup. The other half was turned this week into a pumpkin pie. No bake as per our 3 cookery book. We thought it was a little too sweet, so would reduce the brown sugar to 1/4 cup rather than 1/2 cup

We also went to the allotment where we picked the kale for the  Kale and Broccoli salad we used Cauliflower instead of Broccoli and it tasted amazing. Who would have thought that raw Kale could taste so nice.

Manami cooking the pie ingredients    
Simone chopping the cauliflower

A sunny (but chilly) walk to the allotment

Bon Appetit
chopped up ingredients for the Kale  salad