Vegan Bara Brith

Vegan Bara Brith

This recipe came from Sarah Philpott (see link below). I did add walnuts and dried dates into the mix and reduced the mixed dried fruit. This meant I used a bit more of the tea to soak everything – and definitely leave it overnight.


– 400g dried mixed fruit

– 300ml warm tea

– 400g self-raising flour

– 100g brown sugar

– 1 apple, grated

– 2 tsp mixed spice

– 75ml plant milk

– Oil or vegan margarine for greasing the loaf tin


In a large bowl, pour the warm tea over the dried fruit and leave overnight (or if you’re short of time, a few hours will do). Preheat the oven to 170C. Sieve over the flour, then combine with the dried fruit, sugar, mixed spice and apple. Add the milk and stir through.

Grease a 9×5 inch loaf tin and pour the cake batter into it, making sure that it’s spread evenly. Place on the top shelf of the oven and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

The Occasional Vegan will be published by Seren in March.

Leek and Potato soup

Leek and Potato soup

The weather feels more like October than the start of spring, so I have admitted defeat on today and made a nourishing, warming soup. Then I realised it’s St Davids day on Sunday, so this is also for my family in Wales.

Ingredients (makes enough for about 6 servings depending on how greedy you are!)

3 large leeks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper
800g of potatoes chopped
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp each of rosemary, sage and thyme
750ml of vegetable stock
Tub of Koko cream cheese (150g)
Chilli flakes for the garnish


You can chop the veg quite roughly as it will all be blended later.
Saute the leeks and onion in the oil for about 5 mins. Add the chopped potatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and continue to saute for another 5 mins.

Stir in the stock and then simmer for approx. 20 mins until the veg is cooked.

Once the veg is tender, use a blender to blend the soup. Add some water if it is a bit thick,

Stir in the cream cheese (I do this is small amounts at a time).

Check the seasoning and serve.

I also made some garnish by cubing some potatoes and roasting them in the oven with oil, chilli flakes and sea salt for about 20 mins.

Bistrot Pierre, Weston-super-Mare

Bistrot Pierre, Weston-super-Mare

I find it hard to love Weston. There’s has been millions of pounds of investment in the sea front, but you only have to move back a few streets and it is still very run-down and tired.

However, if you persevere, there are still some pockets of loveliness that can be found. Recently, I found myself there with some time to kill so decided to try Loves, which is a veggie-vegan place with great reviews…. and also shut the day I visited! So, where next?

I had been to Bistrot Pierre previously and had a perfectly acceptable salad so thought I would cut my losses and head there. If nothing else, it has fabulous views over the seafront and a nice chilled vibe.

The menu was a pleasant surprise with a few vegan options available that were also more intriguing than the usual felafel burger and mushroom risotto. I opted for the Miso Roasted Aubergine. This came with beetroot hummus and tabbouleh, garnished with pomegranate seeds.

The aubergine was soft and lightly spicy with the miso. The pomegranate worked perfectly and I am definitely stealing that idea! It;s just so nice to see the vegan option prepared with the same care. Just PLEASE stop giving sorbet as the only dessert option!

Vegan options: Three mains on the menu and pretty good ones – 4/5
Ambience: Nice chilled vibe, excellent service – 4/5
Value for money: 2 courses £12.95 – 4/5

Cashew nut aioli

Cashew nut aioli

The other day I was craving something fresh and green to eat and I’d been thinking about a platter of clean, vegetable crudites and a dip. I thought I would have a try at vegan aioli – the name aioli means “garlic and oil” in Catalan and Provençal but it usually has egg yolk added as an emulsifer. I really wanted that Mediterranean flavour so decided to experiment with cashew nuts. This makes a great alternative to the ubiquitous hummus and I think has that summery , elegant flavour that will be perfect once the sun shines again.

Ingredients (makes enough for about 4 servings depending on how moreish you find it!)

135g of cashew nuts soaked for a least 5 hours, preferably overnight
150 ml of water
Juice of one lemon
3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp garlic
2 tsp of onion granules
2 tsp of Djion mustard
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp oil
Pinch of turmeric
Chilli flakes


I use my food processor to make this, and it’s simply a matter of adding everything and whizzing it up until you have a dip like consistency. Although I have given rough amounts in the ingredients list, it’s better to taste and add lemon or oil to your taste.

Sprinkle with some chili flakes and serve with veggies, bread sticks or crackers.

Although it will last ages in the fridge, it is way better served at room temperature.

Mushrooms on sourdough

Mushrooms on sourdough

At the moment, this is my go-to comfort food. Quick, light (-ish!) but luxurious and comforting. Perfect!

This isn’t really a recipe, it’s more an assemblage. I like to keep the mushrooms quite chunky to make the most of their robust flavours.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

Half a red onion finely chopped
Half a teaspoon of garlic (I swear by the pre-prepped jars which last forever)
Dash of oil
2 portobello mushrooms roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of Oatly creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
Sourdough bread
Chopped basil and chilli flakes to garnish


Fry the onion and garlic in the oil slowly, until soft and caramelized
Add the chopped mushrooms and fry quickly at a high heat until soft (about 5 mins)
Take off the heat and add the creme fraiche and seasoning
Take a couple of slices of the sourdough and lightly toast
Drizzle the bread with oil and then pile the mushrooms on top
Sprinkle over the basil and chilli flakes