Tag Archives: vegan

How to keep Steve (and yourself) happy

So, you’ve agreed to be a house sitter, and now you have to “feed” your friends “sourdough starter”? And they mentioned you have to make pancakes too? Well, let me tell you, the pancakes are totally optional (unless you are harbouring an evil scientist) but highly recommended. Here are all the instructions you need.

Side note: in the story, I mention feeding Steve is done by discarding half and adding his body weight in flour and water. That’s totally fine if you are feeding him quite often. But I don’t have time for that. So instead I keep only about a tenth (~ 20g) and feed him ten times his weight (100g flour + 100g water). That way, the food lasts longer.

Feeding Steve

1. Identify the bags of flour

Steve prefers a mix of two flours: a bit of wholewheat, and bread flour. Wholewheat is called “Volkoren” in Dutch (the bag on the left in the image), and looks a bit more colourful with some flaky bits in it . Bread flour is “Patent bloem” (the bag on the right in the image) and looks like common all-purpose or plain flour, but has a bit higher protein content.

2. Portion Steve

After a while of not being fed, Steve gets a little grumpy and starts producing alcohol. This looks like a yukky liquid on top of the rest of him. This is totally fine, but we don’t really want to keep the liquid. So, tip it off into the sink. It’s okay if a bit of the rest of Steve is also lost, there will be plenty left to feed and make pancakes with.It’s also fine if there is still some liquid inside, just mix it in with the rest of Steve to make sure the new Steve doesn’t start out as mostly liquid.

On the left: a small amount of sourdough starter (25g) in a bowl. In the middle: a big bowl with the rest of the sourdough starter in it. On the right: The now empty jar.

Set aside about 20 grams (it doesn’t have to be precise, here I had 25 g) in a bowl to feed, this will become the new Steve. Tip the rest of Steve into a big bowl for pancakes, or you can just get rid of it. Then clean the jar (you don’t have to dry the inside of the jar).

3. Add flour and water

The bowl with wholewheat flour added to it, on a scale showing 20 grams.

But the bowl with the small amount of Steve on the weighing scale, and zero it (the “tare” button). Then, add 20 grams of wholewheat flour.

The bowl with bread flour added to it, on a scale showing 100 grams.

Add 80 grams of bread flour. I leave the scale at 20 here, so the total comes to 100 grams.

The bowl with water added, showing 98 grams on the scale. Next to it, the empty and clean jar.

Add 95-100 grams of water. I like to use the empty Steve-jar for this to save on washing up :p

4. Mix and put Steve back in his home

Old Steve, flour, and water mixed in a small bowl. This is the new Steve.

Mix flour, water, and the old bit of Steve together. (Be careful if you’re using a bowl that’s just big enough like the one I’m using in the pictures). Then, tip him back into his jar. Close the lid, and put him back into the fridge. Steve has now been fed and will show you how happy he is be producing lots of bubbles over the next few days 🙂
Thank you!

Pancake recipe

1. Identify yet another bag of flour

For pancakes, I like to use a mix of wholewheat flour (that we also fed Steve with) and all-purpose flour. You can also use only all-purpose. Using only wholewheat is a bit trickier because the batter will be less sticky, so your pancakes might fall apart. Using bread flour also works perfectly fine by the way, it’s just a bit unnecessary.

On the left: a bag of all-purpose flour. In the middle: a bag of wholewheat flour. On the right: the sourdough discard in a big bowl.

All-purpose flour, the same as plain flour, is “Tarwe bloem” in Dutch (on the left in the picture). I’ve also pictured the wholewheat (“Volkoren”) here again. If you haven’t already put the sourdough discard into a big bowl, you can transfer it now.

2. Add flour, salt, and (oat)milk

Add some flour. One large tablespoon of wholewheat and two large tablespoons of all-purpose is a good guideline, but you really can’t go very wrong with it. This will make 3-4 pancakes. If you want more, then just add more flour. If you want less, you can add a bit less flour but I don’t recommend using only Steve and no “fresh” flour.

Big bowl with sourdough discard, flour, and salt. On its left, a carton of regular oat milk. In front of it, a box of baking soda.

Add a pinch of salt. If you want fluffy pancakes, add some baking soda (aka bicarb), it’s in the orange box on the picture. The bicarb will react with the acid from the sourdough to form bubbles. If you prefer crêpes, don’t add bicarb and make a thinner batter, so you can make really thin, large pancakes. In the pictures, I’m making kind of thick, fluffy pancakes (so with bicarb).

Add oat milk (or soy, rice, whatever kind of milk you want). Stir with a rubber spatula or use the whisk if you cannot get rid of all the clumps. Add more oat milk if it’s too thick (and if it’s too thin, you can add more flour).

3. Make pancakes

Pancake batter for a fluffy pancake in the skillet. Not the whole pan is covered. Bubbles are starting to form in the batter.

Put a skillet on a medium-high heat (I use 7/10 on my induction stove) and melt some vegan butter or margarine (you could use sunflower or coconut oil too). Add some batter and swirl the pan to spread it. For thick fluffy pancakes, I don’t spread the batter over the whole pan. For crêpes, I would use less batter but make sure it covers the whole pan (which is why you need a more liquid batter for crêpes).

Finished pancake on a plate. On the left, the vegan butter and wooden spatula I used for frying to pancake. At the back, the big bowl with the rest of the pancake batter.

Fry on one side until the top is almost dry (for crêpes, a bit longer). Then flip it over, and fry on the other side. If your pan is not too hot (if the butter starts browing really fast, it’s too hot!) a good indication of the pancake being done is a nice looking colour on both sides. Enjoy with your favourite toppings!

Tribute, a cake

I improvised a cake, and it turned out to be the greatest cake in the world. This is not that cake, because I didn’t write down the measures at the time. In a few tries I did come up with a pretty great recipe nonetheless. It’s easily adaptable for different flavours, so here is the cake recipe as well as some variations.



wet ingredients
one very ripe banana [1]
50g sunflower or coconut oil
100-120g oat milk [2]
vanilla extract

dry ingredients
250 g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
8g baking powder
120 g sugar (any kind) [3]
pinch of salt


Mash the banana well with a fork, so that most of the lumps are gone. Mix it with the rest of the wet ingredients (if your banana and oil separate, it might help to use a whisk). Use only 100g of the oat milk, the rest is only there in case the batter is too dry.
In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients. Make sure you break up any clumps in the baking powder with a sieve of with your fingers. Mix them well.

Preheat the over to 180°C (fan oven, probably 200°C otherwise). Prepare your cake form: I prefer to line it with baking paper, for guaranteed and easy removal of the whole cake, but you could also grease it with some oil.
When the oven is (almost) ready, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix only as much as needed to hydrate all the flour [4]. If it’s too dry, add a bit more oat milk. Poor the batter in your cake form. Spread it out with a spoon or spatula, and shake the form a bit to get rid of any trapped air.

Bake your cake for 35-40 minutes. At the 35m mark, you may test whether the cake is ready by inserting a skewer or knife. If it still has wet batter on it, bake for a few more minutes. Let the cake rest for at least 15 minutes before eating (don’t worry it will still be warm). Letting it cool completely is also fine, of course.


[1] No banana is too ripe for cake, you don’t have to cut out the brown parts either. As long as it’s not rotten or mouldy, you’re good 🙂 You can also freeze a banana for future cake making (defrost it in the microwave or with a lot of patience).
[2] I’ve only used oat, but I don’t see any reason why soy, rice, almond etc wouldn’t work just as well.
[3] You can adjust the sweetness of your cake by using more or less sugar. This recipe makes a reasonably, but not overly sweet cake (less sweet than most store-bought cakes). You may also want to adjust it for the type of sugar you are using (some are less sweet), and for any add-ins that carry additional sugars, such as dried fruits.
[4] The reason for mixing wet and dry ingredients separately, as well as minimizing the mixing, is to preserve the fluffiness of the cake. Baking powder has an acidic and an alkaline ingredient. When the powder hydrates, these components react and form small bubbles of gas (CO2) in the batter; this leavens the cake. Batter that sits for too long after the baking powder is activated, or that is over-mixed, looses its bubbles and will produce a less fluffy cake.

Cake… but with banana on top

Slice two bananas length-wise so that you create two mirrored halves (i.e. two halves that can lie flat). Before putting your cake in the oven, press the banana halves lightly into the top of your cake, cut-side up. Main purpose: it looks fancy.

Cake with sliced banana on top (…half-eaten)

Spiced cake

A simple way to add some flavour and warmth to your cake is to mix in some spices. Add them in with the dry ingredients. Whisking after is recommended to ensure the spices will be distributed evenly throughout the dough. This option also works well in combination with banana or apple slices on top, or with pieces of apple in the batter.
You can add whatever spices you like, but cinnamon is a must. And don’t be stingy with it, one teaspoons for this recipe seems about right. You could also add (about 1/4 tsp) cardamon, kurkuma, ginger, and/or (about 1/8 tsp) ground cloves and nutmeg. Of course, you could also use pre-mixed cookie spices 🙂

Good ol’ marbled chocolate

This is a thing in the world of cake, isn’t it? I don’t think it’s that impressive flavour-wise, but it does look cool.
Because we need to keep our wet and dry ingredients separate, and split the batter in two, we’ll need four bowls. With one half of the dry ingredients, mix in some cocoa powder (not sure how much exactly, I think about two tablespoons will be enough). When you’re ready, mix the two batters and poor them in side-by-side into the cake form. You can mix them a bit in the form, or poor them in smaller, separate layers, if you want more intricate patterns.
For a full-on chocolate cake, you don’t have to bother with two batters. Just add more cocoa powder and maybe mix in some chocolate chips.

Vanilla-chocolate swirl cake (and a sneaky banana!). The inside looked cooler but I forgot to take a picture of that…

The technical challenge: cake-tatin

In theory, you could make some caramel (suger, water, maybe some vegan butter) and poor it into the bottom of your cake form. Then, you can layer in some sliced apples, before pouring the cake batter on top. If you are patient enough to wait for the cake to cool down completely, there might be a caramel layer on top. It might also be too liquid and soak into the cake, which is still delicious.

Nuts/fruits/chocolate chips

All nice things to add into your cake. It’s quite a dense batter, so it should be fine to fold mix-ins in at the end (without finding them all sunk to the bottom of your cake after baking). Having some of the mix-ins on top of your cake generally also looks good. (By the way, this is generally the thing to do for pastry making, as it helps whoever is choosing and/or eating the product to identify the flavour. For example, chocolate chips on top promise chocolate flavour within. This is especially relevant for allergens like nuts. Of course, this assumes one is sharing ones baked goods…)

Some suggestions:

  • Fresh blueberries (These may be too delicate to mix in the batter. I would pour half the batter into the cake form, add half the berries, then the rest of the batter, and the rest of the berries on top.)
  • Mixed nuts and dried apricots
  • Apple pieces with a spiced batter
  • Walnuts and chocolate chips


One of my favourite restaurants in Birmingham is Savannah, an Ethiopian place with an excellent selection of vegetarian (and most of it vegan) food. Not a fancy place at all, but affordable, open late, and deliciously filling food, it quickly became our go-to after-bouldering 9-10 pm meal. But that was before — you know — the pandemic. We gave their promise of pre-ordered delivery a few tries but to no avail (I hope they still exist!).

I missed Savannah food, so I set out to try and make my personal favourite — the red lentils (Misir Wat?) — at home. Although I will in no way claim that my adaptation of online recipes[*], missing (key?) traditional ingredients and probably making unforgivable mistakes in the method as well, is anywhere near as good as “proper” Misir Wat, I really like it. And so did my colleagues, after we made it together over zoom. And my mum, who has been asking for the written down recipe since the first time I made it for her. So this post is titled for the response I expect when I send her the link later.

Red Lentils


(Enough for 3-4 portions)

for the spice mix (Berbere):
2 tbsp(!) paprika (optional make one of these smoked paprika)
1 tsp[1] salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (or less if freshly grating it)
¼ tsp garlic powder
pinch of ground cloves (or 3 whole ones, then cut them really fine)
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch allspice
optional[2] ½ tsp ground fenugreek seeds

main ingredients:
200 g red lentils, dried
1 large brown/white onion, or 2 small ones
3-4 garlic cloves
some chili flakes (adjust for desired spiciness, or leave them out entirely)
1-2 tomatoes OR 1 small (~200g) tin of diced tomatoes
~2 tbsp tomato puree
vegetable stock cube
~2 tbsp coconut oil (or other oil for cooking)
optional a bit of vegan butter (like flora) or margarine, or more coconut oil[3]


If you have the option to plan, I recommend soaking your lentils for 3-24 hours. This reduces the cooking time, which also makes it more likely you will end up with fully cooked lentils. It also makes them more digestible (if you don’t know why that’s something you might want, count your blessings and move on). Drain your lentils before using, do not cook with the soaking water.
Either way, wash the lentils (before soaking if you’re doing that). Just add water and move your hand through, you will quickly see all the dust that comes off. Drain the water and repeat a few times, until the water comes out relatively clear.


Mix all the spices from the list together and set aside. Finely dice the onion, garlic, and tomatoes (if using fresh ones).

Heat up a large pot, then put the heat on medium and add your cooking oil. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Lower the heat if needed, we want to cook the onions but mostly avoid browning. Then add the garlic and chili flakes, and sauté for another minute. Add ⅔ of the Berbere (spice mix), the tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir and cook this sauce for 5-10 minutes. If it threatens to burn, lower the heat and/or add a splash of water.

Crumble in the stock cube, add the lentils, and add water until the lentils are mostly covered[4]. Turn up the heat until this starts to simmer, then lower and put the lid on. Cook until the lentils are soft all the way through, which may take anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes[5]. Occasionally stir and add more water if it starts to get too dry (or if you just like it soupy-er). When the lentils are (almost) done, mix in the last ⅓ of the Berbere and optionally, your fat-for-flavour, and give it another 5 minutes or so.

Eat with…

Like all Ethiopian food, Misir Wat is traditionally eaten with Injera, a sort of huge, soft, sourdough-based pancake made from teff flour. Maybe you can find them at a specialist shop or order them from a restaurant? I like to make not-at-all-like-Injera pancakes from sourdough discard[6]. Otherwise, I think rice or bread — especially sourdough — work really well too.

Back at Savannah, the bouldering club had a standard order of four dishes (plus Injera, of course): red lentils, foul (made from broad beans), something yellow I forgot the name of and “vegetable alicha”. The first three are quite filling curries, the last one is a nice side dish of somewhat sour, soft veggies. This inspired me to try out sauerkraut as an addition, and wow, that is an amazing combination! If you don’t like sauerkraut, maybe a bit of sour from a gherkin or other pickle would be nice. Either way, you could add other veggies (e.g. some stir fried spinach). Last time, my plate ended up looking like this:

Improvised pancake with red lentils, sauerkraut, spinach, and pickled red cabbage.

But, any plate with red lentils is a good plate! Here are some from my colleagues…

Red lentils made by my lovely colleagues, with varying degrees of patience and creativity :p


[*] Red lentil recipe adapted from here, and Berbere from here.
[1] tsp = teaspoon, but in this recipe, an actual small spoon and not a (US) teaspoon measure, because I think that would be too much. Don’t make too big of a heap on your teaspoon.
[2] The reason this is optional is because it’s in the recipe for the spice mix I’ve used, but I have never bothered to buy fenugreek myself. Try it out! To be frank, I think you can leave out pretty much any (but not all) spices, except for the paprika.
[3] Traditionally, the recipe uses niter kibbeh, clarified butter infused with herbs and spices. Adding a knob of flora instead is the cop-out “I don’t have time for this” method, which is presumably what you’ve come here for.
[4] I would err on the side of less water, since you can always add a bit more while cooking, but it’s difficult to get excess water out.
[5] The cooking time varies for the type of lentil (longer for whole, shorter for split) and whether you soaked them or not, and how long (more soaking is less cooking).
[6] You kind of have to be a home sourdough baker to have this.

Forrest soup

Instantly gain +1 level in “vegan” by making your own nettle soup! This recipe requires foraging stinging nettle leaves; you can read about my foraging adventure here. I feel obliged to warn you that foraging comes with risks: Picking the wrong thing and eating it can get you sick of even kill you. So, never eat something unless you’re absolutely sure of the species of plant (or fungus, even riskier!). That said, nettles are easy to identify, so I absolutely do encourage you to look up some tips on ID’ing and picking, and having a go. Both foraging and the recipe below were inspired by AtomicShrimp’s video (and a second one, or look up the info yourself). By the way, the soup turned out fine but not amazing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find a better recipe. This was just my first time cooking with nettles after all!

Nettle Soup


(Enough for two big bowl or three small)

Nettle leaves (a good colander full, see picture below)
olive oil
1 onion
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 potatoes
500 mL vegetable stock
splash of oat or other plant-based milk or cream (optional)
salt, pepper, nutmeg (optional)

Topping ideas: Oatley crème fraîche, chopped nuts, peanuts, croutons, extra pepper


Take nettle leaves from the stalks (wear gloves!) and remove any bits nibbled on by bugs etc (actually, just don’t pick those leaves in the first place)[1]. Rinse well.
Dice up the onion and mince the garlic. In a splash of olive oil, saute the onion on low heat such that it cooks and becomes translucent, but not too brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Meanwhile, remove any bad parts from the potatoes and wash them (you can also peel them completely if you prefer), cut in chunks. Add potatoes and stock to the pot and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are fairly soft.
Add in the nettle leaves and let them reduce in about 2 minutes. Stir through the soup and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Blend it all together, and optionally add a splash of oat milk (or something similar). Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Serve with toppings of your choice.


[1] Actually, removing the stems isn’t necessary. However, I picked my nettles quite late in the season so many of them had flowers as well, and perhaps a bit more fibrous stems. Still edible but (imo) less desirable, so I took the leaves off.

Cutting nettle leaves from the stems is a bit of a tedious job[1]. Wear gloves when you’re handling uncooked nettles! These were picked the day before btw, so some had gone a bit wilted but still good.
Rinse, rinse, rinse! Still wearing gloves.
Finished soup! You may notice that there isn’t that much left in the pan. I totally forgot to take a picture before eating… This is a bout a third of the total batch.

All Hail Seitan

A classic joke about a classic meat-replacement product. I’ve known seitan since my childhood where we used to get it from the local eco-hippy-esque store, as the vegetarian option alongside “boerenkool” or “hutspot” (traditional Dutch dishes of mashed potatoes+vegetables; kale for the first and carrot+onions for the second). We used to coat a thin slice of seitan in flour and fry it to create a crunchy layer on the outside, yum! Shortly after moving to the UK, I found myself in a pub looking for vegan options on the menu. They had a “Hail Seitan” burger, exciting and a pretty funny joke the first time! Imagine my disappointment in the tasteless thick slab of cold seitan I received…

Seitan really is a very versatile product so naturally the quality of your meal highly depends on how it is prepared. In essence, the only two ingredients needed for seitan are gluten flour (aka “vital wheat gluten”) and water. This creates a very sticky dough, which can then be boiled or steamed to cook. After that it’s edible, but usually this is the basic ingredient which can be cut and prepared in different ways (I guess this is something the “Hail Seitan” cook didn’t know about). The basic recipe of gluten flour + water is pretty tasteless, but flavours can be added in different ways: spices in the flour, soy sauce and the like to replace some of the water, and broth for boiling. After experimenting a bit I created an improvised seitan kebab which I was very pleased with, so I’ll share the recipe here.

[EDIT] I have a bit more experience making seitan now, so I have updated the recipe with what I think are improvements!

Seitan kebab


(Enough for four pitas)

For the seitan dough:
150 g of gluten flour (aka vital wheat gluten)
40 g chickpea flour (aka gram flour)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp paprika/smoked paprika (you can use a mix and adjust depending on how much smokey flavour you want)
pinch of salt
~tbsp soy sauce
~100 mL water

water for cooking

For the sauce:
140 g tomato puree
1 tsp sambal oelek (or other spice paste like toban djan. Adjust based on your desired 🌶️🌶️🌶️ level, 1 tsp sambal gives it a bit of a kick but nothing crazy)
juice of one lemon
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup

Any oil for frying


Making the seitan. Mix the gluten flour, chickpea flour, spices and salt. Stir the soy sauce in ~50 mL of water and add this to the dry ingredients. Stir or kneed with your hands and gradually add only as much water as needed so all the flour is hydrated and you have a cohesive, lumpy dough (as in the first picture below).

Flatten your lump and pack it in aluminium foil. Place in a pan and add water to cover it. Cook for about half an hour until it’s done. It’s okay to cut the seitan after a while to check — there should be no more raw dough in the middle — and cook it without foil for longer if necessary.
Alternatively [1]: In a pan that can easily contain your seitan lump (it will expand while cooking), heat up some vegetable broth. Place your seitan in it and cook until it’s done in about half an hour (you should be able to see a colour change). To reduce the cooking time, you may cut the seitan into a few thick slabs halfway through. [2]

Making the kebab. Slice the cooked seitan into thin pieces. They don’t have to be regularly shaped. I like to cut the seitan slabs as an angle (see the second picture below). Drain any liquid from the seitan slices with a clean tea towel (or paper towels).
Prepare your sauce by mixing all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the flavour: more lemon juice for sour, more soy sauce for salt, and more maple syrup for sweet [3].
Fry the kebab slices in some oil for a few minutes. This step is not strictly necessary as the seitan is already cooked, but it’s where you can get a bit of browning and crispiness. Then add the sauce and a splash of water. Cook the sauce down to reduce it, cooking the tomato puree in the process, stirring frequently.

Serve. Serve however you like, for example in a toasted pita. The bread is mainly carbs and the seitan in mainly protein (gluten flour is 75% protein by weight), so I like to serve vegetables on the side. Bonus recipe for the salad from the picture at the bottom!


  • [1] The first method gives you the best structure for “kebab” slices, nice and compact. However, I wanted you to know it’s totally possible to cook seitan without aluminium foil (it will expand more, and soak up some of the cooking liquid). I suggest using some vegetable broth for flavour but plain water will work just fine.
  • [2] You can store the cooked seitan in water/broth in a closed container in the fridge. Not exactly sure how long it will keep, but this will allow you to split the work onto different days. You could also make more seitan to use in different recipes!
  • [3] A smart person would not add all their available lemon juice in one go, but save some for the adjustments. The quantities given in the recipe are really just a guess so tasting is strongly recommended! Do note however, that at this point the tomato puree is still raw, so the final sauce will not taste exactly the same (it will be better). But you can definitely balance the basic flavours (salt, sour, sweet) at this point.
Your lump of seitan should look something like this [note: this is without chickpea flour]
Cutting the cooked seitan slabs into thin pieces
Sauce cooked down for a nice and sticky coating
Seitan kebab done!

My favourite green salad (thanks mum!)


green beans, cooked
olives (green or black)
good quality olive oil (we are adding this for flavour, so it had better taste good)


Halve the green beans and the olives. Peel the avocado (not the cucumber, do you really want to remove most of the flavour?!) and cut it and the cucumber into chunks. Mix the veg with some olive oil and salt (less salt if you’re using black olives, because they are saltier by themselves).

Nobody expects the Spanish stuffed peppers!

I recently ran a Dungeons&Dragons game for my friends, and I wanted to cook them something nice for dinner as well. I made Spanish-inspired stuffed peppers with vegan mince on the evening before the game, and put them in the oven on the day. My omni friends were really impressed – if I may say so myself – and the harshest judge (me) approved as well. Give it a go!


oil (I used coconut)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
3-4 bay leaves
pack of meatless mince (I used the Meatless Farm Co.)
1.5 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
70g sultanas
salt, pepper
[optional] Maggi liquid seasoning*

Tomato Sauce
2/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
1.5 heaped tsp brown sugar (or other sugar)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Potted grilled or pickled peppers**


Prepare the stuffing
Finely chop onion and garlic. Put your favourite frying pan on a medium heat and add some oil. Fry the onions and bay leaves for a minute or so, then add the garlic. Fry the meatless mince separately in a non-stick pan^ (instructions on packaging).
Mix the onoins, garlic and bay leaves back in, along with the tomato puree and maple syrup. Add 1/3 of your total passata di pomodori, stir, and add salt and pepper (and maggi) to taste. Mix in the sultanas and the stuffing is done!

Meatless mince stuffing. The tomato sauce provides a nice colouring, besides keeping it from being too dry.

Make the tomato sauce^^
Heat up the rest of your passata di pomodori in a pan, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Stuff and grill the peppers
Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C fan oven).
Grease a roasting dish with olive oil. Take your peppers out of the pot and rinse of any brine, seeds and skin (if it peels off). Stuff the peppers one at a time with a spoon and lay them in the roasting dish. If you have leftover stuffing and room left in your dish, you can make separate heaps of stuffing that will just have to do without pepper.
Cover the peppers and any loose stuffing with the tomato sauce. Covering it well makes sure the peppers and stuffing don’t dry out in the oven.
Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160 °C for another 15 minutes°°.

Traditionally served with rice (I think).

Stuffed peppers. It’s okay if it’s a bit of a mess, just cover it up with tomato sauce! This is about 1.5 times the recipe, with another 1/2 recipe in a different dish, and some stuffing leftover.


*Traditional Dutch cuisine is well-known for it’s complete lack of any interesting flavourings, which is why Dutch people like to add a few drops of Maggi to basically anything. It deepends the flavour, so I reckon it could be replaced by vegan Worcester sauce or some soy sauce (add less salt if using soy). If you do find Maggi, only use a few drops! It’s a really strong flavour and unlike garlic, too much really is too much.

**Grilled peppers have a bit more flavour than pickled ones and are de-skinned, but tend to be more expensive. The main thing is that you want them to be soft; with raw peppers there is a risk of them not being cooked enough when they come out of the oven. You can probably make your own grilled peppers but I haven’t tried.

^I found the meatless mince is a bit trickier to fry than actual meat, from what I remember. Frying it separately form the onions makes it easier. When they say a non-stick pan on the packaging they really mean it. I used more oil than the packaging recommended though.

^^The original recipe used “tomato frito”, a tomato sauce from grilled tomatoes that had added sugar. I couldn’t find it here so I decided to make my own sweetened tomato sauce.

°° These very specific oven instructions are courtesy of my mum.

Party food for party people

I live in a quiet neighbourhood with paper thin walls between the houses. But, once a year it’s okay to ask for your neighbours’ forgiveness, and throw a party. So we did, yesterday. And if you know me you’d know that I’d absolutely take the opportunity to go all out on making party food. I get to build up my excitement doing something I like (got to get the cleaning out of the way first), it makes the party so much better if there’s plenty of snacks, and I get to show off to people how tasty vegan food can be; I just love it!

I believe everyone had a great time and I’m sure the food helped. Also thanks to my friends who brought bread* and hummus. I’ve had a few people ask about two of the snacks I made in particular (success!), so here are the recipes. Besides those we had nachos with home-made salsa and guacamole, and plenty of store-bought snacks because I’m not the kind of maniac who is also going to make their own crisps and biscuits.


This is a Mediterranean dip that goes really well on bread or crackers as an appetizer (or a 5 pm snack because you had some leftover from the party and kind of forgot to eat lunch).

one tin/jar black olives (although you could use green as well)
sun-dried tomatoes (about a third or half as much as olives)
olive oil (use some from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes with all the tastiness in it)
2 cloves of garlic
fresh parsley (I guess this is optional because I forgot to get some and it was still great without)
Blend everything together with a hand mixer or food processor or the like. Add a little bit of oil and blend until you like the consistency. It should be a thick, spreadable dip.

Pizza swirls

I don’t have much to say about these, since it’s not my recipe at all. Check it out at Bosh!. I used olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a few cherry tomatoes as fillings, because that’s what I had at hand. 

* If you live or have lived in the UK you would know: the supermarket bread here is really miserable. Even the fancy looking, more expensive “seeded batch”, it’s just not that tasty and has no texture. Since I don’t have a bakery near me, I’m pretty lucky I got some freshly baked sourdough from my friend.

A stir fry of sorts

Some time ago on holiday with friends I made stir fry for dinner, and now, they want the recipe. But, I don’t remember how I made it! It’s stir fry, it could be anything! The main ingredients I remember are: some peppers (because I remembered thinking very long and hard on whether I should add them), no mushrooms (because we forgot we had them and I made soup with them later), and cashews (because we had to especially get more because someone ate them…). So, here’s an extrapolation from these parameters using my prior knowledge on what I would probably put in a stir fry.

Stir Fry

Ingredients (4-ish people)
1 red chili
piece of ginger (1 cm)
~5 cloves or garlic
1 lime (we will use both zest and juice)
soy sauce (keep on the side if you have a soy-intolerant friend :p)
1 broccoli
~200 g mangetout
~200 g bean sprouts
2 peppers (any colours)
handful cashews per person
bunch of spring onions
oil (sunflower or a mix of sunflower and coconut or sesame)

Make a spice base by grating garlic, ginger and zest of the lime, and adding finely chopped chili (remove the seeds unless you want it extra spicy). Cut the broccoli stalk in pieces* (keep them separate) and divide the head into medium-sized chunks. Remove the core and seeds of the peppers and cut them in strips, then cut the strips in threes to get nicely sized bits. Very roughly chop the cashews, it’s okay if there’s still some whole ones.

Put a wok (or large skillet if you don’t have one) on high heat and add your oil. When the oil’s hot, add the spice base and fry it for a minute or so. Then add broccoli stalk bits and peppers and fry for a few minutes. If using sesame oil, I usually only add it at this point because I don’t want it to get too hot and evaporate.

Add the rest of the broccoli, cashews, and mangetout. Add black pepper and salt (especially if skipping the soy sauce) and stir. Splash in some water to make the broccoli cook easier and reduce the heat somewhat.

Once everything is done or nearly done, add bean sprouts and lastly the spring onions (they don’t need to be fried). Alternatively, you can briefly cook the bean sprouts by poring boiling water on them, leaving it for a minute, and draining them. You can then add the cooked bean sprouts and the spring onions after turning off the heat.

Flavour the stir fry with soy sauce and lime juice. I recommend squeezing only half the lime and tasting, then decide if you want more lime**.  Serve with boiled rice (I prefer brown rice with this meal) or noodles.

* Almost everyone I know throws out the stalk of the broccoli, but it’s actually perfectly fine to eat. Some time ago I had a Chinese neighbour who taught me how to cook her veggie stir fry and she would be careful to use all of the edible parts of the plant. No reason not to, just make sure you boil/fry the stalk bits a bit longer than the rest. I now feel justified using it too, although I do remove a bit off the end since it’s usually dried out.
** You’re gonna squeeze the lime, then taste a bit of veg by fishing it out of the wok with your fingers. You will then go “oh shit, this is way too limey!” Idiot, you are tasting the lime juice on your fingers. Wisdom gained from personal experience.
– I’m not telling you to wash your veggies in the recipe, but you should wash your veggies.
– Even though they are not in this recipe, you can definitely add mushrooms (brown ones  – which are grown above ground – have vitamin D and are tastier than white ones). You can skip any of the vegetable ingredients and add some others, a few suggestions: green beans (in halves or thirds), spinach, baby corn, white or red cabbage (slice very thin), carrots, … I also like making golden brown fried tofu and adding this to the stir fry.

Magical Pixie Dust (aka seroendeng)

When you’ve made your Indonesian satay sauce and you’re ready for more, here’s a good one. Seroendeng [seh-roon-deng] is an Indonesian side made from coconut and used to sprinkle over rice or other food. The great thing about it is that you can make a bunch in one go, keep it in a sealed container, and use it with a lot of rice-based, asian-y dishes to add some flavour. Or you know, just eat it straight from the bowl if you have some leftover…


A spoonful or two of the paste as for the satay sauce recipe*
2 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)
about 3 tbsp oil (coconut or sunflower preferably)
200-ish gram of desiccated coconut (or like, whatever amount you want)
[optional] handful of peanuts

Heat up a skillet with the oil. When the oil’s hot, fry the spoonful spice paste (boemboe) for a few minutes. Turn the heat low and add the coconut. Stir through the oil and spices and keep stirring the whole time. Add the sugar and peanuts, if using. Keep stirring until the coconut looks mostly brown. Take off the heat. Done.

* I recommend making seroendeng when you’re already making spice paste for something like the satay sauce.

Serving: As the last thing before eating, sprinkle a few spoonfuls over your rice (or veggies, or on top of your satay sauce, or all of the above). 

Indonesian goodness

Indonesian food is quite popular in the Netherlands (…let’s not talk about the colonizing past for a sec) and that’s wholly understandable: it’s the best. Here in the UK, I can’t find all the exact ingredients I need, but I’m pretty sure I’ve given it a good try. I really like cooking this for a group of friends and so far, reactions have been very positive.

A home cooked Indonesian meal could look something like this: some boiled rice, vegetables like green beans, leafy greens and some bean sprouts, tempeh or tofu but most importantly, satay sauce. The peanut-based sauce is really what makes it so delicious and so that’s the first recipe I’ll give you. Always make a little more than you think you need (but only do one iteration of that thought process else you’ll end up with an infinite amount of sauce).

Indonesian satay sauce

Ingredients (for two people, I think)
2 small shallots
3 cloves of garlic
piece of ginger (about 1 cm)
half a red chili
ground coriander (like, 2 tsp?)
cumin (same?)
couple of bay leaves
A LOT of peanut butter (at least two scoops with a tablespoon as full as possible)
some oil (coconut or sunflower pref.)
water (maybe 50-100 mL to begin with, but you’ll add more as you cook the sauce)

Make a paste from all the ingredients between the lines (this is called a boemboe [boomboo]). You can use a food processor or spend a lot of time chopping them as fine as you can/ using a grater. Pestle and mortar is the traditional way.
Heat up a layer of oil in a saucepan and fry the paste for a few mins. Add the bay leaves and stir so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom too much. Add some water and a few scoops of peanut butter. Stir to get a homogeneous mix and let it heat for a while. Add water to thin to the consistency you want (the sauce will thicken up some as you heat it) and add peanut butter to get a thicker sauce or if you decide you want more. Best to cook the sauce for a while but not to let it boil.

Notes: For this recipe and other Indonesian cooking I usually look at the site kokkieslomo, which is great if you can read Dutch… Peanut sauce I’ve been making since forever but I took some inspiration from here.