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.

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


Yotam Ottolenghi’s Traybake Ragu

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Traybake Ragu

It’s back to work tomorrow – meh. This means stocking up the freezer with healthy, nutritious meals that can be on my plate within minutes, avoiding the “thing on toast” or “bowl of cereal” options that are too often an easy way out when I am tired.

One of my favourite dishes to have ready in the freezer is a ragu made of a base of lentils and tomatoes. It’s versatile and comforting and it’s always a pleasure to find a portion stowed away at the back of the freezer.

Over the years I thought I had perfected my version – until I tried Yotam Ottolenghi’s version in The Guardian. Using very similar ingredients, he has managed to get a depth of flavour and smokiness that mine seemed to lack. The addition of coconut cream really adds a bit of luxury too.

The full recipe is here:, it makes about 5 single portions. (The recipe for Confit oyster mushrooms with lemon aïoli on the same page looks divine too so I am going to try and veganise this – watch this space!)

The only adjustments I made to the receipe were to leave out the pearl barley (I will add this or pasta or rice and polenta as I fancy it) and making it slightly wetter. To be honest, my first portion was simply eaten with a hunk of sour dough bread as it was just to good!

Masterchef Pea Risotto

Masterchef Pea Risotto

I love Masterchef.  Obviously the reliance on meat and fish is more than annoying but I love the passion of the contestants and I always pick up a few tips along the way.  I like to play “vegan invention test” (what would I make out of that stuff on the bench) and “how would I veganise that”?

So, last night Monica made a pea risotto.  It looked stunning so I decided to have a go at a vegan version.  Here it is:


1 tbsp of olive oil

200g arborio rice

100ml white wine

500 ml stock

30g coconut yogurt

1tbsp of nutritional yeast

40g peas plus a few to garnish

Pea shoots for garnish


Gently heat the oil.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.

(I left out the onion at this point, but it’s just personal preference)

Add the wine to the rice and allow to gently reduce

Slowly start to add the stock a ladleful at a time and allow to reduce before adding more.  Keep adding and stirring.

While you are doing this, warm through the peas and the coconut yogurt in a pan.  Once the peas are warmed, puree the mixture.

Once the rice is cooked though and creamy and the pea puree and mix through.

Add the nutritional yeast and stir trhough (this is to replace the parmesan,  You could grate in some vegan cheese but I prefer to add creaminess this way)

Season to taste.

Cook a few peas. Plate up and garnish with the extra peas and some pea shoots.

I must say that this recipe turned out so well, I think even Marcus would like it!