Potato and lentil soup

This no-fuss potato and lentil soup makes about 2.5 litres and takes about forty minutes to prepare and cook. It’s vegan and gluten free.

Soup with bread

Soup with bread

Potato and lentil soup with heart-shaped bread


  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 vegan stock cube
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary (or two fresh rosemary sprigs)
  • 2 sprigs of tarragon (optional)
  • 2 brown onions
  • 5 large potatoes
  • Small handful of dried mushrooms
  • 500 gm rinsed red lentils
  • 2.5 litres of boiling water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp chilli
  • 5 heaped tbsp vegan mayo or vegan aioli
  • 2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 1 zucchini (optional)
  • Box of frozen spinach cubes – or a large bag of washed spinach


Step 1. Add olive oil, salt, stock cube and rosemary leaves to a soup pot and turn the heat to high

Step 2. Chop the onions – no need for a fine dice. Quick and dirty is good enough.

Step 3. Chop the potatoes into approx. 1 to 1.5 cm cubes. Again, near enough is good.

Step 4. Put onions and potatoes into the pot and sauté for a few minutes.

Potatoes and onions sautéing in pot

Potatoes and onions sautéing in pot

Step 5. Break up the dried mushrooms and put them in the pot. Give it a stir.

Dried mushrooms in hand
Dried mushrooms in hand

Step 6. Rinse the lentils and put them in the pot and stir. Add the tarragon if you have it.

Add lentils to the pot
Add lentils to the pot

Step 7. Add 2.5 litres boiling water, stir.

Step 8. Add brown super, tamari, lemon juice, mayo and chilli and stir.

Step 9. Add frozen spinach and zucchini (if using). If you’re using fresh spinach, add it as the last step, after you turn off the heat and before you serve up.

Step 10. Cook on high until boiling, and then turn down the heat.

Step 11. Put the lid on and cook until the potatoes are cooked through (maybe 20 mins).Stir, taste, flavour to your liking (more salt, more lemon, more mayo, more chilli).

Lid’s on pot to cook the soup
Lid’s on pot to cook the soup

Cut shapes out of fresh bread (love hearts) and serve.

Lick the dish: soup with bread
Lick the dish: soup with bread

Hoisin sauce (with peanuts)

Sauce in jarHome made Hoisin sauce takes about 10 minutes to prepare and you don’t need to cook it. Chop some vegetables ready for steaming (broccoli, potatoes, zucchini perhaps), then make the sauce while they’re cooking.

This sauce is great if you’re on a diet. Steam your vegetables and add a little bit of sauce – maybe one or two teaspoons at the end – to give them a great flavour.

Add a boiled egg. It also pairs nicely with the sauce and veg.


Makes about 200g.

  • 3 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter (check for palm oil; it’s surprising where it lurks – rule it out if possible)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black strap molasses
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp white miso

How to

  1. Put all ingredient into a large, wide bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste (add more sweet or salty flavours, or more water if it’s too intense).
  2. Steam your vegetables, cut up a boiled egg and plate up.
  3. Add a couple of teaspoons of the sauce on top of your veg and egg, and around the dish. Enjoy!

Sauce on steamed vegetablesSauce in jar

Mushroom sauce with alphabet soup pasta

I loServed up with cat in backgroundve mushrooms, and over the years I have bucked the trend that tells you to saute them with loads of room in a near-empty pan. Instead, I crowd the pan, cook them for ages, and add a little sugar – as I once saw Nick Nairn do – and then season them up and create a sauce. Every time I have delicious mushrooms.

Make this vegan by using vegan mayonnaise, adding extra pasta water and omitting the cream.

For the pasta, you can mix in alphabet pasta like I’ve done here or add homemade noodles or gnocchi.

If you don’t prefer pasta, the sauce pairs well with mashed potato and a little grated cucumber to respond to the saltiness. Add steamed brussels sprouts and beans at the end to extend the offering. Not much is off limits.


  • 500–700 g fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly. I like button mushrooms with a mix of whatever’s on special – shimeji, enoki, oyster, king brown – whatever you have or like, toss it in
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh or dried rosemary to taste – I use about a tsp of dried or a tbsp fresh
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • 2 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 300 g cooked pasta
  • a few generous handfuls of washed spinach leaves

How to

  1. Cook the alphabet pasta (or any pasta) in loads of salty water. Keep 1/4 cup pasta water aside, and then drain the pasta.
  2. Put a large pan on a high heat. Add oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle sugar over the top.
    Sweat mushrooms first step
  3. Let the mushrooms cook on high for around 10–12 minutes, tossing every minute or so. If they are too wet, don’t worry, the water evaporates if you have the courage to continue.
    Keep sweating mushrooms until they colour light brown
  4. When the mushrooms begin to colour, resist the urge to create the sauce right away – give it just that little bit longer and you’ll be rewarded with flavour. Turn the heat to low.
  5. Add tamari, pasta water, mayonnaise, cream and lemon juice, and stir through. Taste and adjust, adding a bit of sugar, lemon juice or tamari if the balance isn’t quite right.
  6. Put alphabet pasta on top of your mushroom sauce in the pan, and then top that with a few handfuls of washed baby spinach. Stir to combine.
  7. Serve it up and eat heartily. Remember to include your favourite drink and pal. Enjoy!
    Serve it up with cat in background Serve up with glass of wine in foreground and cat in background

Pflaumen muss (plum puree)

Pflaumen Muss in jar, sitting on a printed 'love' sign with crockery in the backgroundMy mother’s sister, my Tante Kathe, used to make Pflaumen Muss by roasting plums in the oven for hours, with some sugar and lemon juice.

Here’s a version inspired by her original cook, but using plums in jars.

This dish yields about 400 g of gooey goodness (not much left after starting with 2.1 kgs!), and takes about 3.5 hours to prepare, cook and put into jars.

Use it for a tart filling, or have it on toast or with latkes. I think a vegan coconut pastry that’s slightly less sweet or even a bit salty might make a good pairing.


  • 3 x 700 g tins or jars whole plums in juice
  • 3 tblsp brown sugar
  • 3 star anise (optional)
  • 5 cloves (optional)
  • 4 strips of lemon rind (use a vegetable peeler) (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon (optional)
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 30 ml cognac (at the end, if you like)

How to

  1. Drain and pit the plums and put them into a heavy-based pot, on a high heat.
  2. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar and any of the optional spices.
  3. Boil the ingredients, and then keep the mix on a moderately high heat for about 40 minutes to start the reduction process. Stir every 5-10 minutes.
    Plums in heavy pot on stove, early in the cookPlums in heavy pot on stove, a bit later in the cook - slightly reduced
  4. Reduce the heat slightly so you have a slow bubble going on, and keep stirring now and again for another 2 and a bit hours. You’ll notice sticky plum puree forming on the bottom of the pot, so it’s good to move that around.
    Plums in heavy pot on stove, a bit later in the cook - more reduced, thicker consistencyPlums in heavy pot on stove, a bit later in the cook - more reduced, ready for putting into jars
  5. Tip in a small measure of cognac if you like, about five minutes from the end of the cook.
  6. When the mixture resembles a thick puree (about 3.25 hrs after you started cooking it), you’re ready to put it into sterilised jars.
    Pflaumen Muss in jar, sitting on a printed 'love' sign with crockery in the background


Frittata – any kind

Serving up frittata on a pretty blue plateI’m a vegetarian and over the years I’ve developed this fail-safe frittata that’s quick to make and not too fussy to prepare. It’s great served on a large platter, cut into 8, garnished with snow pea sprouts and cherry tomatoes.

You can substitute ingredients as you wish, though the egg ratio seems to work with any combo, without the need to add cream or flour or water. The picture, right, is a variation.

This dish feeds 4 as a main, or 8 as a side. It takes about 25 minutes to prepare and cook.


  • Olive oil and a knob of butter for frying
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 sprigs of tarragon if you have it
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed into approx. 1 cm lengths
  • 7 eggs beaten with a little ground salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 20 black olives, pitted and halved
  • 100 gm Camembert or Brie
  • Sweet paprika to sprinkle on top
  • Salt/pepper to taste

How to

  1. Peel and chop the onions and fry them in a 30 cm non-stick fry pan with butter a generous slurp of olive oil and some salt and pepper. After they begin to sizzle, stir them then turn them down to low. Put the lid on the pan to let them sweat and become sweet. This takes about 10 mins.Onions frying in the pan
  2. When the onions are soft and smelling beaut., strip the tarragon of its leaves and put the leaves in with the onions and mix through. Give the stalks to your bunny
    .Tulip & Scotty, my rabbits, eat leftover tarragon
  3. Add the olives and stir, still on a low heat.
  4. Snap the ends off the asparagus, chop the stalks into 1 cm lengths, and put them into the fry pan. Turn the heat to high and stir often for 3 or so minutes,
    putting the lid back on in between stirring.
  5. When the asparagus is cooked but still firm, turn the heat back to low and pour beaten eggs over the top of the mixture in the pan. Swirl the pan a little to make sure the egg mix is evenly distributed. Put the lid on again.Turn your grill to high and set up the oven racks so that the frittata pan can sit fairly close to the heat.
  6. Cut the Camembert or brie into strips and lay them across the top of the runny egg. It’s fine to have gaps – just aim for an even-ish coverage. Sprinkle generously with sweet paprika. If there are pools of egg, swirl the pan some more to get that egg cooking.
    Adding Camembert and paprika before it goes under the grill (broiler)
  7. Turn the heat off.When the grill is hot, place the pan underneath it until the eggs are no longer runny and the cheese is melted and bubbling. If you have a
    frying pan with an oven-safe handle, shut the oven door and let the grill do its magic. This takes a few minutes
  8. Place snow pea sprouts in lacy random patterns on your serving dish.
  9. Take the finished frittata out from under the grill, shake the pan to loosen it (it shouldn’t stick) and tip it into your serving dish. It should slide out without the need to use a lifter.
    Serving the frittata on a pretty blue plate
  10. Cut the frittata into your desired portions, arrange halved cherry tomatoes around the side, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Let guest help themselves. Enjoy!

Rhubarb and strawberry jam

Rhubarb and strawberry jam in a jar, next to flowers and near a candle. There’s a sign in the background that says ‘The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives’If you’re making scones, why not whip this jam up while the scones bake? It takes about 20 minutes and yields a small jar of compote-like jam. It’s velvety and luscious and gracefully lasts for week or two in the fridge. It’s easy to scale the recipe up, and it’s vegan friendly and gluten free.


5–6 stalks of rhubarb
1 punnet fresh strawberries, or one can of strawberries, drained
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Juice of 1 small lemon (and while you’re at it, zest the lemon rind and store it in the fridge for another use)

How to

  1. Chop the rhubarb stalks into 1 cm lengths and place them in a medium-sized pot on a high heat. Add lemon juice and cook on high for about four minutes, stirring occasionally
    Rhubarb chopped up in pot
  2. Turn the heat down to medium then add peeled, hulled and chopped strawberries (or tip the drained strawberries into the pot). Keep stirring. If you like, add a bit of lemon zest as well.
    Rhubarb and strawberry in pot
  3. Add the brown sugar and vanilla extract and stir. Continue to cook the jam on a medium heat until the mixture turns compote-like. If you used tinned strawberries, break the whole strawberries up with the wooden spoon.
    Cooking strawberries and rhubarb to reduce themJam on stove, final stages
  4. After about 20 minutes of cooking time, your jam is ready. Spoon it into a small jar for later, or tuck in right away.
    Jam in a car near a blue candle holder

Marzipan with cognac

Completed marzipan logs on a trayThis marzipan is super easy and quick. The ratio of almond meal to sugar is 4:1 so it’s not sickly. There’s not a candy thermometer in sight, nor is there any liquid glucose.

It’s vegan if you use vegan chocolate.


400 g almond meal
100 g pure icing sugar
1 lemon, juiced*
1/3 cup boiling water*
1 tsp almond essence*
Cognac to taste. I use more than 30 ml but less than 60 ml.
150 g melted dark chocolate (I’ve used Lindt dark chocolate with almond flakes, but you can use any chocolate you prefer.)

*The liquid you make up for one recipe actually does a double batch with some to spare.

How to

  1. Empty the almond meal into a large bowl. Run your fingers through it to break down any clumps.P1000069
  2. Sieve icing sugar into the almond meal and mix it through with your hands.
  3. Mix boiling water, lemon juice and almond essence in a cup.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of the water mix to the dry ingredients and stir it through with a spoon. Keep adding water little-by-little until the mixture starts to come together. It becomes wet very quickly so if you want to add cognac, make sure the mix is crumbly – not a dough – but still beginning to stick together.

    The end goal is to mix it into a pliable ball that you can cut into eighths and roll into logs with your hands. It becomes wet very quickly, so add the water mix a little at a time.

  5. If you’re adding cognac, do it now, then put your hands into the bowl to mix it into a ball.
    Marzipan ball on a board with icing sugar, ready to be divided up and rolled into logs
  6. Dust a large wooden board or your bench top with icing sugar and place the marzipan ball onto the surface. Cut it into four, and then four again.
    Marzipan logs cut, ready for rolling
  7. Roll each portion into a log. You might find it useful to have a bowl of water on hand. When your hands get sticky, a bit of water on your hands helps when forming the logs. Dust more icing sugar onto your surface and onto the marzipan as you need to.
    Rolled marzipan logs, ready to be coated in chocolate
  8. Melt chocolate. I use a large plate with slightly raised sides over a small pot of boiling water. The larger the plate, the easier it will be to coat the marzipan.
    Melting chocolate on a plate, over a pot of hot water that’s on the stove
  9. Place baking paper onto a flat oven tray.
  10. Coat marzipan logs, one-by-one, by rolling them in the melted chocolate. Guide them using two butter knives. Transfer the covered marzipan to the tray.
    Marzipan logs coated with chocolate, drying on baking paper
  11. Let the chocolate set then bag up the spoils, or chop a log into slices and serve it with some decent coffee. Enjoy!

    The end product

    The end product