A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipeThomas Keller
This page is for the recipes collected on my travels which capture a moment, a meal, a friendship or otherwise make my heart sing. Some have been shared with me, others I’ve found and adapted. I’m not someone who weighs or measures anything and often I don’t have exactly the right things to hand and need to improvise. But in my experience when you use fresh locally sourced ingredients and add soul you can’t really go wrong!
Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation– experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.Paul Theroux
Ramen noodle soup – Lockdown2 means that I need to find new dishes to cook and eat without being able to travel. And whilst I love Japanese food it’s not something I have ever cooked. So when my daughter introduced me to her Vegan Japaneasy cookbook I thought I would give it a try, starting with the curry roux that forms the basis of so many Japanese dishes
Squash, red lentil and coconut dahl – I love dahl and this one makes use of my current abundance of squash and some delicious cavolo nero currently in season. The whole thing is cooked in coconut milk without using any oil at all so its both low fat and vegan.
Homemade paneer with spiced garden vegetables – I adore paneer cheese in a curry dish but it’s impossible to get hold of in this part of Italy where, unlike the UK, there isn’t a long history of inward migration from India and Bangladesh. So this week between Zoom meetings I had a go at making my own!
Sinigang na hipon – the freshness of this simple sour broth, so typical of Filipino cuisine, allows the shrimps to be the star of the dish
Creamy chickpea, spinach and sweet potato curry – a quick and easy lunch or supper, entirely vegan with the emphasis on taste rather than heat
Roasted pumpkin, coconut and ginger soup – A Thai-inspired winter warmer made with locally grown organic pumpkin, perfect for a wet and windy day
Warm potato salad with feta and fava beans – The best way of cooking almost all vegetables is to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil. This dish with new potatoes, courgettes, fava beans, baked feta, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs brings out the sweetness of the vegetables and is one of my new favourite things to eat!
Torta rustica ai luvertin – During Spring it is an ancient tradition for the Piedmontese to forage for luvertin, which is the Piedmontese name for wild hop shoots. The luvertin shoots – also known as wild asparagus due to their shape – are usually cooked in a pan with butter or used to flavour a risotto, soup or frittata. I made mine into a simple flan with eggs, mushrooms and spinach for a quick and delicious lunch
Soft choc chip cookies – I haven’t seen my grandson Rex for more than six months but our ‘cooking with nonna’ sessions are a joy. Today we made soft, gooey choc chip cookies, perfect with a long distance cup of tea!
Torta Pasqualina – This is not actually a cake but a savoury pie from Liguria traditionally made at Easter time made with layers of thinly rolled pasta brisee and filled with a rich mixture of ricotta and spinach flavoured with fresh marjoram and nutmeg. The addition of whole eggs which bake in the oven creates a wonderful effect when you cut the pie open
Baccala, chickpea and tomato stew – I finally bought some baccalà and made it into a delicious tomato stew with chickpeas, potatoes, olives and capers, hearty flavours for a cold evening in early Spring
Cottage pie – The ultimate British comfort food. This dish, like all my recipes, is a veggie version made with onion, celery, carrots and brown lentils cooked in a rich tomato sauce with stock and gravy granules and topped with a creamy potato and sweet potato mash
Lentil and mushroom cannelloni – My first ese ne tekrema online cooking experience with friends from the UK and Portugal making fresh pasta with a rich vegetarian ragu of lentils, mushrooms and tomatoes topped with a creamy cheesy pesto sauce
Leek, cheese and potato pie – Pies are something of a staple food in the UK and come in very many different forms with a huge variety of fillings. Whilst pies can be eaten all year round they really come into their own during the winter when they are generally served with roast vegetables or chips. This vegetarian version of a traditional British chicken and leek pie can be made with flaky or shortcrust pastry
Roasted sprouts with chestnuts and maple syrup – Never, ever boil Brussels sprouts, the trick is to roast them in butter adding chestnuts and maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness. Perfect for Christmas lunch but also delicious at any time they are in season
Roast stuffed pumpkin – I often make roasted pumpkin soup and my squash, red lentil and coconut dahl is a favourite with family and friends but this time I thought I’d try making a stuffed pumpkin as a centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner
Cabbage and mushroom pasties – A rich cabbage, mushroom and leek filling with Parmesan cheese and mustard inside a soft crumbly shortcrust pastry, adapted from my new recipe book which celebrates the very best of seasonal vegetable cooking
Italian lemon and ricotta cake – A moist Italian cake made with fresh lemons and handmade ricotta from the local farmers market, delicious with coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack between those relentless online Zoom meetings…
Leek and aduki bean stew with cheesy dumplings – A delicious and warming combination of firm beans and soft vegetables in a rich, smoky tomato sauce with deep flavours of paprika and soy. Oh, and fluffy cheesy dumplings which my teenage children used to fight over!
Roasted squash and chestnut soup – There is something completely addictive about foraging for chestnuts and these days I return from every walk with my pockets bursting at the seams. This recipe combines the rich flavours of roasted chestnuts with the sweet charred flesh of some beautiful golden squash picked from my garden
Tray-baked sea bream with lentils and salsa verde – There’s nothing like drizzling homemade salsa verde over a perfectly cooked piece of tray-baked fish that you have filleted yourself to make you feel ‘chefy’!
Apricot, plum and lavender cake – This year’s apricot harvest was very limited, most likely due to the unseasonally cold and wet conditions during May. So the only option was to make them into a cake! I added a handful of the the plums that were just starting to ripen on the tree next door and some beautifully scented lavender.
Baked green pea fritters – Peas are normally regarded as a side dish or end up in a pea and mint soup, of which I’m not a fan. So after a quick search online I found this recipe for green pea fritters and decided to give it a try.
Gorgonzola risotto with mushrooms and asparagus – People often assume that it’s complicated and time consuming to make Italian risotto but it really isn’t – at least not the way I do it!
Pizza ortolana con pesto – Two months into the Italian lockdown my need for pizza has taken over so this is my take on the ortolana, which in Italian means “from the vegetable patch”, with added pesto for extra flavour
Cinzia’s tiramisu – This tiramisu with layers of sponge soaked in coffee and rum, chunks of dark chocolate and a rich marscapone cream is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever eaten!
Ravioli with zucchini and garlic sauce – Although I live in Italy and have eaten (and loved) Italian food almost all my adult life, I’ve never actually tried to make my own pasta. Today I put that right with thanks to an online cooking lesson with Cinzia in Florence…
Lockdown cauliflower cake – This is somewhere between a savory cake and a quiche made with both eggs and flour, great for quick and easy (bread free) weekday lunches
Cauliflower, leek and Gorgonzola cheese – More comfort food in these COVID-19 lockdown days…
Polenta with pumpkin, mushrooms and sage – A comforting dish made with fresh sage which has anti microbial properties, builds immunity and helps keeps viruses at bay
Tagliatelle con trota e ricotta – a simple and quick pasta dish made with smoked trout sourced from a nature reserve in Piedmont
Torta de mela – a delicious, moist Italian apple cake made with organic apples grown on the sloping hills of Piedmont
Baked beetroot falafel with homemade pitta bread – A delicious combination of so many of my favourite things…falafel in soft pitta bread with crunchy salad smoothered in creamy lemon yoghurt dressing and hot chilli sauce
Lebanese mezze – It’s three years since I went to the Lebanon but the country blew me away with its beauty, resilience and of course its food, which I’ve always loved but rarely cooked. I thoroughly enjoyed my online cooking lesson with Tania and her mother during which I was taught to make the most delicious Lebanese mezze consisting of hummus, baba ghanouj and tabbouleh
Lebanese flatbread – These Lebanese flatbread are simple to make and can be eaten with any dish from the Middle East – or indeed anything! Serve soft filed with mezze or falafel, or bake until crisp and serve with dips or soups
Spicy roast cauliflower with pomegranate jewels – The humble cauliflower makes yet another appearance, this time roasted and turned into two completely different dishes to provide quick and easy meals on a weekday evening
Spicy tomato salsa – Made from fresh tomatoes, chillis and coriander grown in my vegetable garden, perfect for tacos, burritos or as an accompaniment for my chill sensa carne
Veggie enchiladas – One of the most delicious things I’ve cooked and eaten in a long time – and, as you know, I’ve cooked and eaten a lot during lockdown! So if you love Mexican food you really should give this a try. And if you think veggie Mexican food won’t do it for you, think again!
Chilli sensa carne – A simple, easy-to-made chilli without meat (sensa carne) which can be served with a baked potato, rice, sweet potato fries, nachos or topped with eggs for a delicious carb free breakfast