Love food Main event

Chestnut & cashew nut roast

Nut roast was traditionally the only food ever made as the vegetarian alternative and so it got a bit of a bad reputation. Unfairly in my opinion, especially for this particular recipe. It really is very tasty. If not all eaten straight away it can be sliced into portions and frozen. If freezing, portion out the sauce proportionately and freeze that too.

I have to admit that chopping everything is a bit of a faff but I really do think it is worth it.

Ingredients (8 servings)


  • Heat the oil in a fairly large pan, add the onion and fry for approx 5 mins until softened and just lightly browned.
  • Stir in the carrots & celery and fry for a few more mins, stirring well
  • Remove from the heat and add everything except for 2 tbsp of cashews and 1 tbsp parsley. Mix well.
  • Place everything into a lined loaf tin. Press down flat and then sprinkle on the reserved cashews and parsley
  • Bake for 1 hour on 170C. You may need to loosely cover the top part way through to stop the top burning.
  • While the roast is cooking, make the sauce: heat the oil in a pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Fry for a few minutes until softened.
  • Stir in the sherry and bubble briefly. Add the cream, season and bring to the boil. You can have the sauce as it is or blend, as we do, using a hand blender.
  • I find it’s best to let the roast rest for a little while before cutting it otherwise it can fall apart. Also, to get fairly even slices, I cut in half and then cut each half into four slices.
Love food Main event

Cauliflower cake

I know cakes are usually sweet but this savoury cake is very good indeed, from the genius Yottam Ottolenghi. The use of the term ‘cake’ did get us talking about what the definition of a cake is – any thoughts dear readers?

The recipe is below but if you have Ottolenghi’s Plenty More cookbook you will find it there, page 258.

Serves 4 to 6

• 1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1¼-inch florets (1 lb/450 g)
• 1 medium red onion, peeled (6 oz/170 g)
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
• 7 eggs (scant 1 lb/440 g)
• 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
• 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/3 teaspoons round turmeric
• 5 ounces coarsely grated Parmesan or another mature cheese
• Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
• 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
• 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
• Salt
• Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC.

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.

Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.

Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature

Love food Main event

Ricotta, Spinach & Onion Tart

Serves 6

This is easy to make but it does have a number of components so may be too involved for many of you. Most of the bits can be prepared in advance though and assembled just before you are ready to cook.


I always make the whole quantity of pastry but will often freeze half and then halve all other ingredients each time I make.

  • 250g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 250g plain flour
  • 75 ml cold water

Pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until there are no lumps of butter. Add the water and process until a ball of pastry is formed. Leave in the fridge for half an hour before rolling out. Even if you don’t want to bake the pastry straight away I recommend trying to roll out the pastry before it gets too hard. You can always leave the rolled pastry in the fridge before baking. If covered, it is fine to leave the pastry in the fridge overnight ready rolled out. I don’t worry about the shape of the pie but it should be approx. 5mm thick.

Before baking prick all over with a fork.


  • virgin olive oil
  • red onions x 4, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • thyme leaves
  • 600g fresh spinach
  • 200g ricotta
  • 200ml crème fraiche
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50 freshly grated parmesan or vegetarian alternative
  • Prepare the onions: saute the onions in the olive oil with the chopped garlic and thyme leaves (can be prepared a day ahead)
  • Prepare the spinach: wash well and blanch in a large pan of boiling water until wilted. Drain well. leave in a colander until ready to use. You can turn every now and again to remove the excess water. (can be prepared a day ahead)
  • Mix the crème fraiche, egg yolk and parmesan in a bowl.
  • Ricotta: Drain off any excess water from the ricotta and give a mix to break up.


  1. Cook pastry for approx. 10 mins on 180C. It should be crisp and lightly browned.
  2. Just before you are ready to put in the oven before eating (it takes 15/20 mins to cook), put the topping on – first the onion mix, then the spinach (make sure it is not dripping water), next dot teaspoons of ricotta randomly over the spinach and finally do the same with the crème fraiche.
  3. It’s now ready to bake for 15/20 mins on 180C until golden patches appear on the topping. Eat straight away.

I served it with the Grated Salad in the previous post.

Love food Main event

Feta, Pistachio & Pomegranate Bake

Thank you Waitrose for this recipe which we tried out today. I didn’t bother with the pomegranate seeds so mine didn’t present quite as well as the slice in the Waitrose image. As it wasn’t being made for any guests, I thought it was an unnecessary touch and good for you to see it how it really was.

To allow for family dislikes I missed out the citrus zest, the dried cherries, the dill and the mint! It worked because I was given a thumbs up and the real test is that it was agreed that it could be made again. We did discuss though whether it is different enough to the nut roast favourite we regularly make. We didn’t conclude strongly one way or the other.