Seitan shawarma

Friday nights at our place have become wrap nights, and this seitan shawarma is our absolute favourite.

seitan shawarma

I like to prepare this in the morning and let it spend the day marinating then reheat it before serving. It works equally well served on a plate with a fork, or wrapped in fresh pita bread.

Makes 6 – 8 wraps
Seitan: 1 hour cooking
Shawarma sauce: 10 minutes
Total active time: 30 minutes
I adapted this recipe from one for lentil wraps.

The seitan

250g (2 cups) vital wheat gluten
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
500ml (2 cups) cold water
2 litres (2 quarts) vegetable stock

The sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste

The salad

2 large tomatoes, seeded and sliced
about 20cm (8″) cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon sumac
Salt and pepper to taste

The accompaniments

pita bread
greek yoghurt (or greek-style soy yoghurt) mixed with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, a crushed garlic clove and a handful of finely chopped parsley


Whisk together the dry ingredients for the seitan, add the cold water until mix by hand until it is fully combined and kind of spongey. Form into a log and slice about 1cm (about 1/2″) thick. Make sure to keep the pieces separate or they will stick together as the gluten does what gluten does, which is bond.

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to the boil, add the seitan, cover, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and drain seitan in a colander while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. Stir together for about 1 minute to bring out the flavour of the spices.

Add the the soy sauce, lemon juice and tomato paste to the skillet and stir to combine. Slice the seitan into strips, add to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened – cooking time will depend on how wet the seitan is.

Freezes well.

Posted in burgers&patties, dressings&sauces, middle eastern, salad, vegan | 2 Comments

Roasted vegetable Danish braid

Oven roasted vegetables filling a flaky, savoury Danish pastry crust.

roasted vegetable danish braid

Yes, this is quite time-consuming, but I needed to bake something. I’ve been off my game a bit, too burdened with work to spend much time in the kitchen. I decided to seek inspiration and, apparently, binge-watching The Great British Bake Off can have a serious effect on your family’s eating habits… If you aren’t keen on several hours prepping dough, feel free to use store-bough puff pastry or even pizza dough.

Serves 4 (main) to 8 (appetiser or side)
Dough: 3 hours
Filling: 1 hour + cooling (during the dough prep time)
Baking: 30 minutes
Notes: If you want to spread the dough-making out over two days, you can refrigerate it overnight after the first rise or at either of the chilling stages – just cover it tightly so it doesn’t dry out.
If at any point in the rolling process the dough splits, brush the split with flour, and if the butter becomes too soft, put the dough in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.


115g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
20g (2 rounded Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour

250g (2 cups spooned and scraped) bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
120ml (1/2 cup) milk, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrate)


Note: I used about 250g (roughly 1/2 pound) of each of the vegetables. I’ve listed the ones I used, but I imagine that sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli… would be great, too

2 large waxy potatoes
1 small eggplant (aubergine)
1 medium red pepper (capsicum)
1 large zucchini (courgette)
4 – 5 cloves garlic
30ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
120ml (1/2 cup) tomato passata
2 tsp mixed dried herbs such as marjoram, parsley, basil, sage, thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dry breadcrumbs as needed

1 egg beaten for egg wash


Use a fork to mix the softened butter with 20g (2 rounded Tbsp) flour until well combined. On a sheet of plastic wrap, use a spatula to spread out butter mixture into a 10 x 15cm (4 × 6”) rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate until firm while you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, whisk together 250g (2 cups) of bread flour, yeast, salt and plenty of pepper.

Add the milk, egg and tomato paste and mix until smooth.

Knead you have a smooth dough, at least 5 minutes. It will start out sticky, but it will become soft and smooth as you knead. If it’s still very sticky after 5 minutes, add another tablespoon of flour and knead again.

Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until it doubles in size, about one hour.

On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle.

Place the butter rectangle on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it. Pinch edges of dough together and roll it out again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle.

Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter, and roll out the dough again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle and then fold it in thirds again.

Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling, roll it out again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle, fold in thirds, roll again and fold again.

Chill for at least another 30 minutes, loosely wrapped in plastic.


While the dough is proofing and chilling at various stages, prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and slice the garlic into matchsticks, place in a large baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast until everything is soft, about 45 minutes.

Allow to cool, then toss with tomato passata, dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

If the mixture is at all watery, add a couple of tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs, adding more as needed.


Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.

Roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured baking paper into a rectangle about 25 x 35cm (10 x 14″).

Spread the filling down the long centre third of the dough rectangle, packing it quite tightly and leaving about 2cm (roughly 1″) at each end.

Use a sharp knife to cut the sides into strips about 1.5cm (roughly 1/2″) wide at about 45°, cutting from about 1cm (roughly 1/4″) out from the filling.

Fold the ends up over the filling and criss-cross the side strips over the filling. You can remove one or two strips at the end you are folding towards.

Slide the baking paper onto a baking sheet, brush with egg wash and place in centre of oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Transfer to a wire to cool a little before slicing. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.

Posted in pastry, tart&pie | Leave a comment

White bean and rapini soup

A rich and peppery soup to fill your belly and warm your bones.

green soup

We eat soup for dinner at least once a week and I’m constantly trying out new combinations of vegetables. Rapini (broccoli rabe, cime di rapa or whatever name you choose to use) is one our favourite winter veggies – bright green, loaded with goodness and with it’s peppery and slightly bitter taste, it’s no wonder it’s the central feature of so many European traditional dishes.

Serves 8
Preparation: about 1 hour
Freezes well


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large celeriac (celery root) (approx. 800g or about 2lb), peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 litres (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable stock
1 bunch rapini (approx. 500g or about 1lb), chopped
1 x 400g (14oz) can cannellini (white) beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes (optional)


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the onion until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and cook until the celeriac has started to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a further five minutes. You should stir quite frequently during this process.

Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer.

Set aside a large handful of the more tender rapini leaves, and add the rest of it, along with the white beans, to the pot. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Using a stick blender or a normal blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to low heat and season well. Add a little more water or stock to thin the soup if desired.

5 minutes before serving, stir through the reserved tender rapini leaves.

Serve with plenty of pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional).

Posted in soup, vegan | 4 Comments

Mini panettoni with dark chocolate

Festive baking time! Rich, yeasted sweet bread studded with dark chocolate, in a handy little size for parties and lunchboxes.

mini panattoni with dark chocolate

Makes 24 muffin-sized panettone
Active time about 2 hours
Resting time 5 – 6 hours
Baking time about 40 minutes

Because it is made in so many stages, I recommend reading through the whole recipe first, then dividing it up to suit your schedule – if you don’t have time to do the whole thing in one day, you can refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise and pick it up the next day.

Note that all the ingredients (including milk, butter and eggs) should be at room temperature.


1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 large egg yolk
15g (1 Tbsp) sugar
50g (2 heaped Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the milk, add egg yolk, sugar and flour and mix until smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

First dough

185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
25g (2 scant Tbsp) sugar
1 large egg
28g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter

Add the flour, sugar and egg to sponge and mix with a wooden spoon or paddle beater. Add butter and beat until fully incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Second dough

2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
145g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter
185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g (3 1/2 oz) roughly chopped dark chocolate

Add eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract to first dough and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or paddle beater.

Add butter gradually, mixing well.

Add flour and salt and knead together into a soft dough.

Knead in chopped chocolate, then continue to knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is soft and light. It will be quite soft and sticky.

First rise

Scrape dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

Second rise

Put 24 cupcake liners into muffin pans.

Punch down dough and pull off golf-ball sized pieces, roll them into balls and pop into cupcake liners.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.


1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

Brush with egg wash and bake in centre and lower third of oven for 15 minutes, swapping trays after 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2 and bake another 25 – 30 minutes, swapping trays after 15 minutes, until golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, dessert, italian, muffin, snack, sweet | 11 Comments

Greek-style yellow split pea soup

A silky smooth soup for chilly evenings.

split pea soup

I had this recipe in my ancient, hand-written cookbook under the name of “Fava”, but a little research has shown that that particular dish from the island of Santorini is actually a purée typically eaten with bread… This recipe uses pretty much the same ingredients, but has a lot more liquid to make it a soup, hence the name.

Either way, it’s a warming winter meal that is rich in flavour, incredibly silky in texture and will leave you feeling satisfied.

The leftovers freeze well, too!

Serves: 6 – 8
Preparation: about 2 1/2 hours


500g (about 1 pound) yellow split peas
2 litres (2 quarts) vegetable stock
2 large red onions
2 medium carrots
2 large stalks celery
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried mint
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper

For serving

1 small red onion
lemon wedges
olive oil


Rinse the split peas well under cold running water, then add to a large soup pot along with the vegetable stock.

Cover, bring to a slow boil and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Dice the onions, carrots and celery, and add to the pot along with the olive oil, oregano, marjoram, mint, bay leaves and plenty of pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.

Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion blender to make it smooth.

Season with salt and serve, topped with some finely sliced onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Posted in greek, soup, vegan | 2 Comments

Cranberry simple syrup

Cranberry simple syrup for all your seasonal cocktail needs, like this cranberry gin and tonic. Cheers!

cranberry simple syrup 01

Makes about 2 cups
Preparation: 10 minutes
Steeping: a few hours if you’re in a rush, 24 hours or more for a better result

The cranberry simple syrup

340g (12 oz) fresh cranberries
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
375ml (1 1/2 cups) water


Rinse the cranberries then prick them three or four times with a toothpick.

In small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.

Cover and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally – for best results, allow to steep in the fridge for 24 hours or more – then strain the liquid into a clean glass bottle, allowing the cranberries to drain well.

Store in the fridge for up to three months.

The cranberries

You have a few options for the cranberries after you make the syrup…

To garnish those seasonal cocktails – spread the cranberries on a baking sheet so they’re not touching and freeze them. When frozen, transfer to a container to store in the freezer to use as a garnish in place of or in addition to ice cubes.

For use as decoration or just for snacking – spread the cranberries on a sheet of baking paper and coat generously with granulated sugar and allow to dry. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Bake a cake!

Cranberry gin & tonic

1 jigger (44ml or 1 1/2 ounces) gin
1/2 jigger (22ml or 3/4 ounce) cranberry simple syrup
tonic water
5 frozen cranberries
an ice cube
twist of lemon peel to garnish


In a medium sized glass, add the gin and the cranberry simple syrup, fill to 3/4 with tonic water, add frozen cranberries and an ice cube and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Posted in drink, preserves | Leave a comment

Cranberry walnut loaf

A flavour-packed whole wheat sweet bread for a chilly autumn afternoon.

cranberry walnut loaf

I used candied cranberries, but it works just as well with fresh or frozen cranberries – it will just be a bit less sweet.

Makes 1 x 30cm (12″) loaf
Preparation about 15 minutes

Baking about 60 minutes


360g (3 cups, spooned and scraped) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
375ml (1 1/2 cups) whole milk
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150g (1 1/2 cups) candied, fresh or frozen cranberries
50g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped walnuts
50g (4 Tbsp) diced candied orange peel
50g (4 Tbsp) diced candied lemon peel


Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4, and grease and flour a 30cm (12″) loaf tin.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Put the milk in a medium heavy based saucepan and heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients whisk until the batter is smooth.

Toss the cranberries, walnuts and candied peels in a little additional flour, then stir them into the batter.

Pour into loaf tin and bake in centre of oven for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, snack, sweet | Leave a comment