Carrot Cake

We recently had a birthday in the family and Carrot Cake is a favourite, so I decided it would be the perfect birthday cake for our birthday man. I haven’t made a carrot cake in a while, but I should say I really liked this recipe from BBCGoodFood for it’s simplicity. The original recipe uses raisins to add sweetness, but I reckon the cake is sweet enough without them. Plus – the question is, do raisins really belong in a carrot cake?! This one also has walnuts, though you can also use pecans or go without if you prefer. Perfect for a tea time treat!

More in cake: Vegan Carrot Cake MuffinsApple & Blackberry CakeBiscoff Cake

Carrot Cake


Serves 10-12 | Prep 35 mins | Cook 30 mins + cooling

You’ll need:

  • 235ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin;
  • 100g natural yogurt;
  • 4 large eggs;
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract;
  • ½ an orange, zested;
  • 265g self-raising flour;
  • 335g light muscovado sugar;
  • 2½ tsp ground cinnamon;
  • ¼ ground nutmeg;
  • 265g carrots (about 3), grated;
  • 100g sultanas or raisins (optional)
  • 100g walnuts or pecans, half roughly chopped, half halved (optional).

For the icing:

  • 100g slightly salted butter, softened;
  • 300g icing sugar;
  • 100g full-fat cream cheese.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and line the base and sides of two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment (this is a good guide by BBC Good Food – lining cake tins). Whisk the oil, yogurt, eggs, vanilla and zest in a jug. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a good pinch of salt in a bowl. Squeeze any lumps of sugar through your fingers, shaking the bowl a few times to bring the lumps to the surface.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the carrots, raisins and the chopped nuts, if using. Mix well to combine, then divide between the tins. Bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for 5 mins, then check again. Leave to cool in the tins.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add half the cream cheese and beat again, then add the rest (adding it bit by bit prevents the icing from splitting). Remove the cakes from the tins and sandwich together with half the icing. Top with the remaining icing and scatter with the remaining walnuts. Will keep in the fridge for up to five days. Best eaten at room temperature.


Original recipe from BBC Good food, issue August 2018, available online here.

Previously posted on this day:

== 2018 ==

Sticky Pork Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice dish which is just so tasty! I always thought it would be complicated to make but having given it a go at home it’s actually quite simple. It is a little faffy as you need to cook all the ingredients one by one, one after another but even so – it’s rather quick to do. I marinated my pork for a few hrs before cooking, but if you don’t have time to do that, just prepare the marinade first and marinade the pork while you are preparing and cooking the rest of the ingredients. I got the recipe from an old issue of Delicious magazine and have ever so slightly adapted it in places. Hope you enjoy!

You can get Gochujang paste (it’s a Korean chilli paste) from most Asian supermarkets.

More with Gochujang: Japanese inspired tuna burgers and togarashi fries

Sticky Pork Bibimbap


Serves 4 | Prep 30 mins| Cook 30 mins
A little effort | Dairy Free

You’ll need:

  • 400g boneless pork belly, skin removed, chopped to bite size cubes;
  • 1-2 tbsp rapeseed (or vegetable oil), plus extra for frying the eggs;
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks;
  • 3 medium onions, sliced;
  • 150g beansprouts;
  • 150g oyster or shiitake mushrooms, sliced;
  • 200g spinach;
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil;
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce;
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or honey);
  • 400g short-grain rice;
  • 2 spring onions, sliced diagonally;
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin strips;
  • kimchi, to serve;
  • white and black sesame seeds, to serve.

For the Gochujang sauce:

  • 4 tbsp gochujang paste;
  • 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil;
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce;
  • 2 garlic cloves;
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup (or honey)

First mix the gochujang sauce. Mix all sauce ingredients together and add around 3/4 of the sauce to a large bowl, reserving the rest. Add the pork and stir to coat well. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for a few hrs or while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.

To cook the bibimbap, heat 1 tbsp of the rapeseed or vegetable oil in a large wok. Stir-fry the carrots until they begin to soften. Add 1/2 tsp of each the sesame oil, soy sauce and agave syrup/honey. Cook over a high heat for 1 minute, then transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon. Then one vegetable at a time, cook the onions for 2 minutes and  beansprouts, mushrooms and spinach for 1 minute each, each time adding 1/2 tsp of the sesame oil, soy sauce and agave syrup/honey. Add more rapeseed oil as you go if needed. Set aside in separate bowls.

In the same wok, stir-fry the pork in its sauce for 20 minutes or until  cooked through. The gochujang sauce should reduce and caramelise a little to intensify the flavour. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Finally when the pork and rice are ready, heat a little oil in a clean frying pan and fry the eggs to your liking (should take about 3-4 minutes for a runny yolk). While the eggs are cooking, start assembling your bimbibap.

Divide the warm rice between 4 bowl evenly, then divide the onions on top. Add the remaining cooked vegetables, pork, cucumber and kimchi into little piles around the bowl. Finally top with the fired egg. Sprinkle over spring onions and sesame seeds and serve straight away.


Adapted from a delicious magazine recipe “Jina’s Bibimbap” issue June 2013, no longer available online.



Roasted Carrot Veggie Burgers

When I first mentioned my plan of making Vegetarian Carrot Burgers to my other half he looked both dubious and completely unexcited in equal amounts. However, this was all gone in seconds as soon as he started eating them!

I always find veggie burgers hard to make for a number of reasons. First of all, getting the texture right is really difficult. Patties have fallen apart while cooking them at least half the time I’ve tried to make a veggie burger. The other thing is the flavour. Especially, if I’m making them for meat eaters… Of course, it is difficult to beat a decent beef burger, but the key is to make sure you aren’t trying to recreate these flavours but go for something different.


In this case, the burgers are made out of roasted carrots mixed with cumin, ground coriander, paprika and Cayenne paper, giving it a bit of a middle eastern flavour. Served topped with fresh tzatziki, vegetables and a bit of hot sauce (always on my table) – and voila – you have a Middle Eastern Inspired Vegetarian burger.

While to cooking time might put you off, it’s really to allow you to roast the carrots. You can do that in advance and prepare the patties earlier in the day or evening before. When prepped, they need less than 30 minutes in the oven to cook.

If you have any leftovers, they are also perfect for lunch, stuffed in a pitta with some fresh salad and tzatziki.

More with carrots: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek | Carrot & Ginger Bhajis and Spiced Paneer with Dhal |Honey-roast parsnips and carrots

This is a recipe from Waitrose magazine which I have adapted slightly.

Roasted Carrot Veggie Burgers

Serves 4 | Cook 30 mins + chilling | Prep 1 hr 20 mins
Easy | Vegetarian


You’ll need:

  • 600g large carrots, halved lengthways;
  • 2½ tbsp olive oil;
  • 50g dried breadcrumbs;
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed;
  • 25g parsley leaves, chopped;
  • 1 tsp ground coriander;
  • 2 tsp ground cumin;
  • 1 tsp paprika;
  • 1/2 tsp Cayanne pepper (optional);
  • 1 egg;
  • To serve:
    • 4 brioche buns, halved;
    • 4 tbsp tzatziki;
    • 4 slices smoked/spicy cheese;
    • fresh veggies as you like them. I had: lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and red onion.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/170C fan/ gas mark 5. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Toss the carrots with 1 tbsp oil, season and space out well on the lined tray. Roast for 55 minutes, until browned and just tender.

When slightly cooled, roughly chop the carrots and add to the bowl of a food processor (set aside the lined baking tray for later). Pulse until it becomes a finely chopped, but not quite smooth, purée. Tip into a mixing bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and ground spices; season. Mix in the egg then, with clean hands, shape into 4 firm burger-shaped patties. You can make this in advance and leave to chill up to a day before cooking. Regardless, try to leave the patties to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up a little.

When ready to cook, space the patties out on the lined tray. Brush with the remaining 1½ tbsp oil and bake for 25 minutes, until turning golden. Warm the halved brioche buns in the oven for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Spread the base of each bun with tzatziki and arrange some torn lettuce, tomatoes, onions and whatever else you are using on top, then add the burger and finish with a slice of cheese and the bun tops.


Original recipe from Waitrose & Partners Food magazine, issue November 2018, available online here.


Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek

Does anyone else buy The Guardian on a Saturday purely for the Feast magazine included with it? No? Just me…? Well… at least it’s free with my Waitrose card……… Anyway, last weekend, I was reading through it while also doing some shopping, and was searching for inspiration for what to make for dinner that day. This was one of the first recipes I saw and I thought it looked interesting – I do love a dish that has a good variety of spices in it. I was also intrigued by the ‘whipped fenugreek’.

Fenugreek is a spice I most often use when making certain curries but I don’t get to use it all that often in general. So I was curious to see what the whipped fenugreek is all about. I didn’t even know that if you soak fenugreek in hot water for a couple of hours you will get a spice sponge, or that you can ‘whip’ a spice in general. I’m now wondering what other spices I can do this with and what effect will that have?

This recipe is a testament of why I like Ottolenghi’s cooking and food so much. It’s always full of flavour, colours and there are quirky things that I’ve never seen before. I like being challenged and have the opportunity to learn new things in my kitchen at home, so I thought I’d see what this is all about.

In all honesty, if you want a quick vegan stew you can skip the whipped fenugreek part all together and you will still have a nice, warming root vegetable stew* (see tip below). But if you fancy yourself a bit of learning something new and experimenting in your kitchen, give this part a go as well.

And you are wondering what the hell Hawaij is, Ottolenghi explains that it’s a spice mix from Yemen. It’s full of flavour and I can see it would go really well with chicken or lamb too! In my slightly adapted version below, I did cheat a little by using canned chopped tomatoes instead of grating fresh tomatoes and it worked well.

More Vegan recipes on the blog: Chickpea, tomato and spinach curry, Cauliflower fritters and Quick spinach, sweet potato and coconut stew.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek

Serves 4, generously | Prep 40 mins | Cook 1hr 20 mins + Soaking 2 hrs
Easy/A little effort | Dairy & Gluten Free | Vegan


*Tip: I’ve added instructions relevant to the whipped fenugreek in italic so that you can easily ignore them if you aren’t making it.

You’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges;
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed;
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated;
  • 2 tsp tomato paste;
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes;
  • 30g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve;
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 small head swede, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks;
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, halved widthways, then into 4 lengths;
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 1½cm-thick slices;
  • 2-3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 3cm chunks.

For the hawaij

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted;
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted;
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns, toasted;
  • 2 cloves, toasted;
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods;
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric.

For the whipped fenugreek paste

  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek;
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped;
  • 1 spring onion, roughly chopped;
  • 10g coriander, roughly chopped;
  • 1 lemon, juiced to get 1½ tbsp;
  • Salt

First make the whipped fenugreek. Put the ground fenugreek and 250ml boiling water in a small bowl and leaving to soak for at least two hours, or overnight. Pour out and discard the liquid, leaving the spongy fenugreek in the bowl. Add a tablespoon of water and use a small whisk to whip the fenugreek until it’s pale and resembles mayonnaise – about 10 minutes by hand. Tip into a food processor, add the chilli, spring onion, coriander, lemon juice, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and three more tablespoons of water, and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.

Now make the hawaij spice. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom (in a spice grinder or mortar) until fine, then stir in the turmeric.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and hawaij spice mix, and cook for 30 seconds more, or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, two-thirds of the coriander and two tablespoons of water, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have cooked down. Add 650ml water, the sugar, root vegetables and one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt, bring up to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the stew has thickened. Stir in half the whipped fenugreek, cook for 10 minutes more, then stir in the remaining coriander.

Divide the stew between four bowls, drizzle over the remaining fenugreek mixture, scatter a little coriander on top. and serve with yoghurt (dairy-free or Greek) and some crusty bread, if you’d like.


Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi from Guardian’s Feast (16 February 2019), available online here.

Previously posted on this day (19 February):

== 2018 ==
* Coconut Dhal:


Honey-roast parsnips and carrots

Honey glazed parsnips and carrots went perfectly with our Christmas turkey this year. I can promise you, they will go well with any roast, though, and your guests will definitely love them.

Honey-roast parsnips and carrots

Serves 8 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 30 minutes
Easy | Dairy and Gluten free | Vegetarian

Photo by Sarah Ahmad

You’ll need:

  • 500g carrots;
  • 500g parsnips;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 4 tbsp honey;
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place a roasting tray in the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, slice the carrots and parsnips lengthways into halves or quarters so that they are evenly sized.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and mustard. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss thoroughly to coat in the glaze. Place on the hot tray and roast for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and caramelised.

Original recipe from Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2015, available online here.

Get ahead: Prepare and coat the vegetables in the glaze a few hours ahead of cooking time.