November flavours…

Another weekend has gone with me pottering around the garden and then landing home with a bunch of cabbages and some spinach! Too much green for hubby, hence I had to think of something else… thankfully, pumpkins have been plentiful and… surprise! Some chestnuts were found in a local shop… no better ingredients for an autumnal dish!

Pies are now high on my agenda, I love experimenting with pastries and fillings… here you go–you can try this one, it worked well even with hubby!

for 2

about 300g chestnuts, boiled for an hour and peeled

1 small pumpkin, your pick, about 400g weight

1 onion

1 clove garlic

200ml veg stock.

for the pastry: 300g plain flour, 100g vegan margarine (I use Vitalite), 1 pinch salt, 150ml water

first make the pastry by rubbing the marg in the flour til it seems like breadcrumbs; add  the water and bind together in a pliable dough. Knead for 4/5 min then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15/20 min at least.

Cook the pumpkin in the stock with the onion and garlic til tender; meanwhile peel the chestnuts.

in a bowl, combine the pumpkin mixture with the chestnuts, then season with salt, pepper and your favourite herbs.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out with some extra flour til quite thin.  Place it on an oiled tray, top half of it with the mixture, then fold the other half on top. Bake at 200C for 25 min.

Ok, dinner time for me… Mexican tonight, but for my personal version (influenced by my stay in a fab house in Ann Arbor, MI with two Mexican (by origin, Mums’ side! :)) ladies, Christina and Natalia!) you’ll have to wait… 😀


just a bit more time…

Another weekend has passed… after a day spent lecturing (I had forgot how demanding it is to do 6 hours on the trot!) on Friday, I decided that at the weekend I would take it a bit easier. Also, hubby and I were looking forward to seeing the Don Giovanni on Sunday afternoon. If this amazing production of the Scottish Opera comes your way make sure you go, it was brilliant!


Anyhow, Friday evening I got home after meeting up for a swift drink with my dear pal Alessandra and decided that I’d do a very autumnal dinner… i.e. roasted pickling onions and root veg with a dressing of olive oil, lemon, rosemary, garlic and thyme.  I served the lot with vegan pancakes (yes, we’re still doing well on the Animal Aid Vegan Challenge here! :D) made with just gram flour, a pinch of salt, some herbs and water and cooked on the non-stick grilled pan… and hubby loved them!  It was a resounding success, we just neede something nice and warm I think!

Saturday morning I pottered off to the garden as I had a few jobs to do–clearing spaces for winter bedding plants and putting down cloches… but before that I made spelt, lentil and vegetable broth with kale for lunch–hubby also got a nice platter of cold meats and cheese with proper homemade oatcakes, as I have learnt from Colin at Bread in Fife!–and also baked a loaf of Irish Soda bread, i.e. the easiest and quickest bread you can make! I know, and I understand as I love the stuff, sourdough bakers will frown, but the beauty of this bread is that you can make it and have it ready in just under an hour and it smells and tastes good–a fab idea once in a while!

Saturday night well… it was pizza night!  I made a yeast sponge and left it to prove before going off to Vigil Mass.  This meant that once time came, I knocked it back with some extra flour, left it to rise again for an hour and then made the pizza.  I cannot be grateful enough to Colin at Bread in Fife… because hubby complimented me on the quality of the base! 3 cheers for Colin–the baking course is the best thing I’ve done in months I think!!

OK, time to go and prepare 10am lecture for tomorrow… then a few bits of correspondence for charity (St Vincent DePaul) and make dinner I think…

Have a good one all!

working from home…

Thursday already–for once I am at home tapping away at my last chapter and awaiting the arrival of the heating engineer for a check since it’s cold already!


While waiting for the kettle to boil I thought about dinner tonight, for me and lovely hubby… I have lots of cabbage, hence I think that some bubble and squeak cakes made with shredded cabbage, pureed lentils and mashed swede will do me good!  Hubby gets spaghetti al tonno, like my Grannie used to make it… with garlic, parsley and chilli!

I am looking forward to the weekend already–seeing a friend (my dearest Alessandra!) after work tomorrow and then going to see the don Giovanni in the Festival Theatre on Sunday afternoon, what a treat!

So, since I was mentioning  it… tomato and tuna sauce for pasta, try it, it is easy!

Sweat a clove of garlic in 2 tbsp. olive oil for about 5 min, then add some tuna steak or even tuna flakes, providing you have drained them well from their preserving liquid, a pinch of chilli flakes and stir well, then cover with chopped tomatoes or passata (to your liking), adjust salt and chilli to taste, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Ideally you have this with linguine, but any shape will do–we make it with penne often back home!

OK, tea ready, back to chapter…


there is no place like home…

I owe an explanation for my silence… 1) work–very hectic… 2) going home the weekend just past, to do some paperwork with my Dad and also to see my Mum.

Being in Rome was a welcome, if short, pause, which reminded me of what Autumn (well, it was much warmer than the averages, almost feeling like September !) means in Italy!

Plentiful Romanesco cauliflower–the green ones with an arrow point!–chestnuts, walnuts still slightly soft and big bunches of Italia and Regina grapes, yay, a real paradise! On Saturday we enjoyed a leisurely family lunch–my Mum had made me a fab minestrone with beans and fresh veg, the full works and in addition there were tagliatelle with homemade Bolognese sauce and for the meat-eaters, veal roast cooked on top! My cousins had brought home made tiramisu, which was a treat for all concerned too.

In the evening I took my time to make dinner for me and my parents… outside the local Church (I went to vigil mass) they were selling chesnuts in aid of a project seeking to construct hydraulic mains in Mato Grosso, hence, idea–how about having them for dinner? plus a morning visit to the local market had seen me bringing home a large Romanesco and plenty of fresh herbs… all I needed for a gratin!


So, here goes–this gratin can be made with all floreted cruciferous, i.e. romanesco, cauliflower and even broccoli.

Ingredients (depending on the dimension of the cauliflower it can feed up to 6 people as a side dish; if having as main, count 2 per cauliflower)

1 romanesco, cut in florets and washed thoroughy

2 cloves garlic

80g fresh breadcrumbs

a handful fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dry)2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for the tin), -salt and pepper to taste

In a pan of boiling water blanch the florets for about 7/8 minutes; drain well.

Heat the oven to 180C; in a blender, whizz the breadcrumbs with the garlic, olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper.

Oil an oven tin or dish and place the florets in it, then top with the crumb mixture, drizzling with a tiny bit more oil.

Bake at 180C for about 25 min til bubbly and golden brown; this can be served on its own with slices of sourdough bread or can be a good accompaniment for pasta–cook your favourite shape til al dente then add them to the oven dish and return to the oven for the final 5/6 min cooking time for the cauliflower.

Chestnuts… well, everyone likes them roasted on the fire! 🙂 But I am quite partial to the boiled ones! Simply put them in a pan of cold water, bring it to the boil and let them simmer away for about 45 minutes. They are delicious peeled and eaten as they are.  Or they can be mashed, mixed with rosemary, a bit of salt, olive oil and 3/4 tbsp chestnut or polenta flour (the recipe often calls for adding pinenuts and raisins if you like, and they do taste lovely in it! I also like almond flakes!)  and then spread on an oiled tray; bake this at 200C for about 40 minutes–it is my version of delicious castagnaccio, of which there are many regional varieties in Italy!

This is a good Italian page: and I like the images!

Alternatively, for any English speakers… 🙂

OK–15 min lunch break over… talk soon, promise!