Sunday, 6 December 2015

Lily's Dairy-Free Christmas Cake

Every year for as long as I can remember, my Grannie made a Christmas cake especially for me and my sister. This was such a treat for two reasons, one because we could actually have a piece of cake like everybody else at tea time, and also because the whole cake was just for us! Since returning from Paris, I have been making the most out of having an oven again and thought I'd quite like to try a new spin on my Grannie's original recipe! I wanted to share something that everyone can now enjoy with their family and friends. It is the perfect thing for anyone allergic to dairy, eggs and nuts, whilst happening to be refined sugar free too! For extra darkness and richness, I have added blackstrap molasses, and have swapped dark brown sugar for a mixture of honey and maple syrup. I've also added a couple of other ingredients, like the stewed apple (basically apple puree!) to allow more moisture in the cake. If you'd like to see how I make this cake at home, click on the link below!

Lily's Dairy-Free Christmas Cake

dedicated to my brilliant Grannie

300ml of black tea
3oz/ 85g of honey
2oz/ 56g of maple syrup
1/2 a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses
2oz/ 56g of coconut oil
1 large cooking apple (stewed)- roughly 2.5 oz/ 70g
6oz/ 170g of currants
6oz/ 170g of sultanas
zest of 1 orange
3 teaspoons of mixed spice
1 tablespoon of chia seeds (mixed with 3 tablespoons of water)

10oz/ 283g of spelt flour
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar/ white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Begin by mixing the chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and leave aside while it forms a jel-like consistency.

Then peel and chop up the cooking apple into small-ish chunks. Allow this to stew with a little water for about 15 minutes while you prepare everything else.

In a large saucepan, drizzle in the honey, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup and coconut oil. Scatter in the currants, sultanas along with the orange zest, mixed spice and 300ml of brewed black tea.

Simmer very gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes, your kitchen will smell of Christmas (what's more to love?!) and the dried fruit will have absorbed all the rich and dark flavours. Leave this aside to cool...if you are impatient like me and my Grannie, fill up the sink with cold water and leave the saucepan bobbing around until the mixture is completely cool.

Once cool, slowly fold in half of the spelt flour into the saucepan. Then, in a jug or even a mug, mix together the bicarbonate of soda with the vinegar. Add the frothing mixture to the saucepan and then fold in the other half of the spelt flour. It is important not to over-stir the mixture, otherwise you will end up with a tough cake!
Clearly felt the need to smell the blackstrap molasses before it went in to the pot!

Pour out the mixture into a lined circular cake tin, evenly distributing it outwards. Cut another sheet of greaseproof paper to cover the cake (this will prevent the sultanas and currants in the cake from burning on the top!).

Bake for 55 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Allow to cool (if you can wait) and enjoy with a nice pot of tea, and maybe your family and friends too!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Sweet potato, carrot and barley soup (two ways)

I've come to realise that I'm a bit of a routine girl, one who has recently become very fond of the mighty sweet potato. As this root vegetable regularly finds its way into my shopping trolley, here are two recipes, both equally delicious in their own right and perfect for this time of the year. After a blustery walk or even just a long day, you have two to choose from...a backup if you ever get bored of the first one I suppose.

Sweet potato, carrot and oregano soup with a subtle kick

serves 5-6

2 large sweet potatoes (no need to be too precise with the size of chunks as we're blitzing here!)
3 carrots
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
600 ml of vegetable stock
1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
150g of pearl barley

Begin by bringing the barley to a boil and then letting it simmer for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on the cooking instructions). 

Finely chop up the onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. 

Begin by gently frying the onion in either a little olive oil or even water (#studentproblems) in a large soup pot. Allow this to soften on a medium- high heat for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic.

After two more minutes add in the sweet potatoes and carrots. Let these fry for about 5 minutes before adding in the chopped tomatoes, stock, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and a pinch of pepper. 

Give this all a good stir, pop on a lid and let it bubble away for about 30 mintues on a low heat. 

Taste and see if it needs a pinch of salt (I tend to add this at the end as the chopped tomatoes I buy here in Paris seem to always contain salt, as well as the stock cube). 

Blend this altogether until smooth and add in the pearl barley once cooked. 

Take 2 (featuring cumin and ginger)

serves 5

2 large sweet potatoes (no need to be too precise with the size of chunks as we're blitzing here!)
3 carrots
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
600 ml of vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 inch of freshly grated ginger

Follow the same instructions above and enjoy! 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Lilana Apple Pudding (adapted by Lily)

Whenever the day comes that you don't feel like making an apple crumble, and you want to attempt something a little more exciting, a tiny bit more challenging, try this. This is the sort of baking that I find truly thrilling and joyful.

The first time I tried out this recipe, there was a very high chance that it could have gone completely wrong. Burnt on the top, undercooked in the middle, not sweet enough, gritty texture. But once I'd whisked one last time, I was left with a twinkling feeling in the back of my mind, that it might just work! Anyhow, I can't take complete credit for this...yes I made this up on the spot, with all new ingredients. However, I did base the quantities and basic ingredients from a recipe my Grannie adapted to suit her granddaughter's allergies. (ad lib: I am still impressed that I could remember all the quantities and measurements, off pat, as I had left my recipe book à Paris!) Anyhow,  Grannie discovered in recipe books from the Second World War, all kinds of substitutes for rationed foods such as eggs. For example, the fizz that occurs when vinegar and bicarbonate of soda come together is just as good as the rise that an egg or two would give in a cake, or indeed an apple pudding like this.

I have substituted white sugar for a mixture of the wickedly dark and powerful blackstrap molasses and maple syrup. The molasses gives a wonderful richness and dark colour, contrasting with the sweetness of the maple syrup and vanilla. I have also swapped regular plain flour with the more nutritionally dense spelt flour, and dairy-free spread for coconut oil. There's just one more thing regarding the etymology of the recipe's you tend to share almost everything with siblings when you're growing up, when my little sister Alana was born, Grannie had to change the original name from Lily Pudding and as the noble sister that I am (even at the grand old age of 1 and a half years old), I allowed it to be evolved into Lilana Pud, obviously!

For the apples:
4 cooking apples (about 1/2 a pound)
4 teablespoons of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

the pudding:
2 ounces of coconut oil
1.5 ounces ounce of maple syrup
1/2 an ounce of blackstrap molasses

6 ounces of spelt flour (I've only ever used wholegrain, but I'm sure white would work perfectly too!)
a pinch of salt
1/4 of a pint of dairy- free milk (rice milk works well)
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees farenheit. 

Begin by peeling, and slicing the apples into thick slices. In a large frying pan, add the apples with the maple syrup, vanilla extract and a little water (to prevent sticking). Stew these for about 15 minutes, until soft, but not mushy like a puree. 

Cream together the coconut oil with the maple syrup, blackstrap molasses and honey with a fork, until well combined. Add the flour and salt until it forms a crumble- like mixture. 

In a jug, add the vinegar to the milk and then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. 

Slowly pour the fizzing milk into the crumble mixture. You very well might not need all of the milk. You want to be left with a thick consistency that coats the apples, but do go slowly as you don't want it to be too sloppy! 

Pour the stewed apples into a baking dish (I like using a round ceramic dish where the apples can spread out evenly). Pour over the sponge mixture, covering all the apples if you like. It is sometimes quite nice to have a couple poking out the top!

Bake for 25 minutes and check with a fork to see if it's cooked the whole way through. If the fork comes out clean, then you're good to go! If not, bake for another 5 minutes. 

Serve with dairy-free icecream, or simply as it is. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Poached Salmon and Brown Rice Bowl (taken from my YouTube video recipe)

Since living in Paris, in a room with a tiny little kitchen without an oven, I've had to adapt to cooking everything on a 2 ring hob! Living in halls of residence has also made me aware that the whole building would probably appreciate not having the smell of salmon wafting throughout the, this is how this recipe came about. The word poaching comes from the old French verb 'pochier' meaning to 'put into a pocket', when the white of an egg forms a pocket around the yolk. When applied to meat and fish, this method allows the cook to experiment with vegetables, herbs, all sorts of things, to subtly enrich. Here, I decided to use soy sauce and honey which create a delicious contrast between sweet and salt with the added freshness of some freshly grated ginger. It is perfect for a weekday supper to have with some brown rice and greens. If you'd like to see how I make this, click the link below to a video I've posted on my YouTube channel!


to serve 1

1 fillet of salmon
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1 cup of water

serve with:
a handful of broccoli (or any preferred greens!)   
60 g of brown rice

Begin by rinsing the brown rice, bring it to the boil and let it simmer for around 25- 30 minutes (but I'd recommend checking the instructions on the packet!)

Then in a large saucepan, mix the soy sauce, honey with a good splash of water- around 1 cup.

Season with pepper (no salt needed here as soy sauce provides the salt here!) and evenly spread the grated ginger on top of the fillet. If you have time, leave this for half an hour or longer to let the flavour sink in. Don't worry if you want to cook it straight away, it will still be delicious!

Next, add the salmon, skin- side down into the large saucepan with soy sauce, honey and water. 

Bring it onto a high heat, and then turn it down immediately to a low simmer for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. 

When there's only 5 minutes left before the rice is cooked, steam the broccoli on top of this pan (I do this as I have limited space!).

Check that the salmon is cooked and serve on top of the rice and broccoli. Pour over the left-over liquid from the saucepan, and enjoy!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The importance in tips on how to plan for the week ahead

There are two main reasons why I tend to plan my food for the following week if I know I'm going to be out and about for the majority of the day...the first reason is that ever since I started cooking for myself as a student, I've found that organisation is key to any successful budget meals. The second reason is that being allergic to dairy, eggs and nuts, there's little that I can eat without having the worry of having a reaction, even more so now that I've moved to Paris! There's something very satisfying in having tupaware boxes filled with meals that I can grab every morning of the week. All it takes is a little time and effort on a Sunday afternoon and you're good to go!

1. Make a plan of what it is that you want to cook in bulk...perhaps this is two different dishes with the idea in mind that the freezer is your best friend (or not, if it doesn't work like mine at the moment!) For example, last week, I made a big batch of cauliflower and chickpea curry which lasted me a good 5 days.

2. Write down the ingredients of everything that you will need to bring to the supermarket. These days, I enjoy opting for the vegetarian recipes for lunch and saving the meat that I buy for will save money if you cut down on the amount of meat and simply swap a couple of breasts of chicken for extra vegetables and canned beans for example.

3. Stock up on some cupboard essentials: chopped tomatoes, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dried herbs, canned beans, lentils, rice, pasta, frozen peas, ketchup...I could go on!

4. Keep it simple...stick to either one option for lunch throughout the week, or two if you're likely to get bored!

5. For dinner, I like to buy either one or two different kinds of meat and some kind of fish. For example, this week I have bought two chicken breasts, a packet of mince and two salmon fillets- this will be plenty to last me longer than a week no doubt!

6. Get up a little earlier, turn on the radio and get cooking! Begin by laying out all the ingredients for the first lunch you're planning to make, chop and prepare everything before you actually begin cooking (this will make everything more relaxing and enjoyable, I promise!)

7. Invest in some good tupaware, preferably with clickable (is that a word?!) lids. There's nothing worse than a smelly spillage in the bottom of your bag!

8. Proudly pile up all that you've made and store in the fridge or the freezer in meal sized portions (if you have space).

9. In addition to making the actual meal (maybe you've opted for a lentil dahl, or a chilli non carne), cook up 2-3 days of rice, potatoes, pasta to have with each meal.

10. If you're feeling extra adventurous, why not make some energy- boosting snacks to accompany your mains?! I love to make some kind of raw chocolate energy balls that I can munch on mid- afternoon (the recipe for these will be up on my blog soon)

So there you go, soon enough you'll become a tupaware queen or king with fabulous new lunches every day of the week, secretly very smug with yourself!

Check out my vegetarian chilli non carne dish that is perfect for this sort of thing!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Apple, Blackberry and Raspberry Crumble

I'd say that apple crumble has always been my absolute favourite pudding to have. As a little girl, my Grannie taught me and my sister how to make the basic crumble with half as much fat (usually butter, but she had to adapt with two granddaughters allergic to dairy, so dairy- free spread!) as flour, and half as much sugar as fat. This might sound terribly confusing but you can use it as a guide for measurements, doubling or even tripling the amounts to make a bigger crumble for family lunches or dinners! For example:

to make the crumble topping for roughly 6 people the measurements would be:

10 oz of plain flour
5 oz of dairy- free spread
2.5 oz of sugar

and so you can see that these measurements can easily change around depending on how much more or less crumble topping you'd like to make!

Anyway, this recipe is one that I have made up, using slightly different ingredients because I am interested in always changing recipes and making up new things! Here, the base of the crumble is oats which become wonderfully crunchy when combined with honey and coconut oil! The blackberries and raspberries (which are now in season), add a beautiful colour and slight sharpness to contrast with the apples and the sweet topping, making it a perfect pudding on a summer's evening, or any other time of the year really!

If you would like to see how I make my crumble, do click on the video below! I visited the beautiful Garson's Farm in Surrey,where you can pick your own fruit and vegetables, you could also call it a very merry berry heaven! I picked the most delicious raspberries but ended up eating a few too many leaving me with rather too short a supply to make a crumble with. Luckily, some blackberries hanging around in the fridge came in handy, and this recipe was born! You might also notice that I use cups here to measure out my ingredients, I'm not too sure why but I find it is fun pouring things out of them into a large mixing bowl!


makes enough for 6 generous servings, or 8 slightly smaller servings

1 and a half cup of oats
1 cup of plain flour
5 tbsp of honey/ maple syrup
4 tbsp of coconut oil
1.5 tsp of ground cinnamon

3 large cooking apples
150 g punnet (about 1 cup) of blackberries
a handful of raspberries
1 tsp of mixed spice
2 tbsp of honey/ maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, 356 degrees Farenheit, Gas Mark 6

Begin by peeling, coring and cutting the apples into fine slices. Add the blackberries, raspberries, mixed spice and honey into a large saucepan with a dash of water to prevent everything from sticking to the pan. Put on a medium to high heat and when the fruit begins to soften, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes with a lid on, stirring frequently.

Now measure out the oats, plain flour and ground cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Melt the honey and coconut oil in a small saucepan on a low heat. Slowly pour the melted delicious-ness into the oats, flour and cinnamon mixture and stir until all combined.

Once the fruit has stewed for about 15 minutes, taste to see if it is sweet enough for you! This is important because often, cooking apples can be a little too sharp and a dash of extra honey is required.

Find your best oven- proof crumble dish, pour out the rich purple stewed fruit and top with the crumble topping.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes keeping an eye out for any premature burning on the top!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Homemade Beef Burgers (perfect for barbecues!)

If you happen to have a spare moment over the next few weeks while the sun is shining and if you're looking for a delicious homemade beef burger recipe to make full use of the barbecue weather, you've come to the right place! As well as being allergic to dairy and nuts, I am also allergic to eggs which makes adapting recipes rather interesting! In my quest to make a decent eggless burger, I was faced with many an egg- yolk requiring recipe and so decided that I might as well try and make my own. I suppose I realised that eggs aren't really what they're cracked up to be and are not essential in making homemade burgers! These also freeze well, if the weather suddenly decides to change... If you would like to see how I make them, hit the link to my YouTube channel below:

Makes 4 large burgers


1tbsp of flaxseed mixed with 3tbsp of water
500g of beef mince
2 tsp of wholegrain mustard
1 tsp of mixed herbs
1/2 tsp of Thyme
1 garlic clove
1/2 lemon zested
pinch of cayenne pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper


Begin by creating the flax egg by mixing the flaxseed with water in a small bowl. Leave this to form an egg-like consistency for 1- minutes.

Then, in a large bowl, grate your clove of garlic and then zest the half of the lemon.

Break up the mince in your hands so that it begins to separate and mix the rest of the ingredients together using your hands to combine everything together.

Make sure that it all comes together well into one large mass.

You can now divide your mixture into 4 balls, shaping them into round burgers and patting them down to your desired thickness.

If you are having a barbecue, cook these on each side for about 5 minutes once the coals have become white and are hot enough.

Serve in a burger bun, pitta bread or even naked with a lettuce wrap topped with whatever toppings you like!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Vegetable Lily Non Carne (cheap, quick and easy)

This was created one night when I was back home for the Easter holidays and since then I haven't stopped making it, purely because of its ease. It tastes pretty good too! Once you've chopped everything up, this is just a matter of bunging everything in and allowing it to cook for at least a good half an hour. What may seem like endless chopping and grating will pay off (I promise!) once you have a nicely stacked pile of tupaware boxes waiting in your fridge or freezer! I like to have this with either brown rice, quinoa, baked sweet potato, cauliflower rice...the possibilities are endless. Oh, and if you're feeling like a little something extra, try mashing half an avocado with a little salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and a drizzle of olive is divine! If you're interested to see how I make this, the link below will show you to the video I've uploaded to my YouTube channel!


olive oil
1 large red onion (or a white is fine, but this gives extra flavour)
3 garlic cloves
3 peppers (any colour is good, but I find red, yellow and orange work well as a combination)
1 large courgette
2 large carrots (grated)

2 tablespoons of tomato Ketchup/ tomato puree
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
250 ml of vegetable stock
2 teaspoons of cumin
1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
a good pinch of salt and pepper

1 can of rinsed kidney beans


Start off by finely chopping your onion, grate the 3 cloves of garlic and cut up the peppers and courgette into small chunks. Grate the carrots and then add a good glug of olive oil to a large pot. Now measure out all of the spices and herbs in a small glass so that they are ready to go.

Add the onions to the pot and let them soften for a couple of minutes before adding the grated garlic. Then add the peppers, courgette and grated carrots. Give everything a good stir and allow them to soften for about 10 minutes.

Pour in the stock, gradually, and leaving a little to add later on if the sauce looks like it needs a little hydrating! Add in the two cans of chopped tomatoes and then all of your spices and herbs.

Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and pop on a lid for at least half an hour.

Check to see how it tastes after 30 minutes, and if you need to add any more of the stock, seasoning or more spice. Now add the can of kidney beans for the last ten minutes or so to take in those lovely flavours.

Serve with rice, a baked sweet potato, quinoa or cauliflower rice!


Chocolate Chip Cookies (dairy-free, egg- free and sugar- free!)

It doesn't get much better than baking chocolate chip cookies...the process of combining all of the ingredients, the smell that fills the kitchen and then finally biting into them! A slight crunch whilst still slightly soft and the melted chocolate just beginning to slowly solidify once again, heaven! I made these cookies last night with two of my housemates with the idea that they would go perfectly with a new brand of dairy- free frozen yoghurt we'd found on our weekly shop! The following recipe is one that I adapted as we went along, so as to substitute oats for almond flour, and the chia seeds allow the cookie to hold together more easily. These are dairy- free, egg- free, sugar- free and even nut-free!


1/2 a cup of oats (blended into a flour) + 2/3 a cup of oats
1 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of sea salt
5 tablespoons of coconut sugar

2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoon of maple syrup
4 tablespoons of rice milk/ any dairy-free milk you like
1 tablespoon of chia seeds

50 grams of chocolate chips, or 1/2 a bar of Green and Black's dark chocolate (we used an 85% chocolate bar, but I'm warning you that this is quite dark, but deliciously dark!)


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Farenheit/ Gas Mark 6

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Begin by adding the chia seeds to your milk and leave this for about 5-10 minutes until it forms a substance that resembles frogspawn (basically slightly jelly- like)!

Once you've blended all of your oats into a fine flour consistency, mix all of the ingredients together in one bowl. Add the milk and chia seed gel at the end and then begin to place tablespoon- sized bits of dough onto your lined baking tray. Flatten slightly with the back of your spoon, this doesn't have to be perfect, just shape them into shapes that vaguely resemble cookies! This should make about 12 cookies.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 9 minutes and check. Remember that cookies tend to firm up and get crispier once they cool! I'd let them cool for about 15 minutes, only if you can wait that long...


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

I call it Shepherd's Pie, although technically, Cottage Pie is probably the correct name for this! Either way, it is delicious and that is all that matters to me really. I find that this is wonderful to make ahead of the week and to just have reassuringly in your fridge or freezer, when cooking after a long day feels a little strenuous. I also like it for the reason that all the ingredients together make for a cheap, but delicious meal, which I've come to find is quite satisfying living as a student! After a little reluctance and much persuasion, I've uploaded my first video I filmed and edited myself showing how I like to make my Shepherd's Pie, so please watch and let me know what you think, as there might be some more uploading of videos this new year!

So, here's the recipe...

1kg of sweet potatoes (or any other kind of potatoes- Maris Piper or King Edward will do) 
butter/ some kind of dairy- free spread

500g of beef mince
a little olive oil
2 stalks of celery
2 medium sized carrots
1 onion (red or white!)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 can of plum tomatoes
250 ml of stock (vegetable/ chicken)
1/2 tbsp of Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp of Tomato Ketchup 
EITHER 2 stalks each of fresh Rosemary & fresh Thyme OR 1.5 tsp of dried Rosemary & Thyme combined
salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Farenheit/ Gas Mark 5

Begin by cutting the potatoes into equal sized quarters, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until lovely and soft.

Roughly cut the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and begin to soften in a large frying pan in a light drizzle of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes. 

In another pan, begin to brown your mince on a medium- high heat. 

No oil is needed as there will be plenty of fat coming from the mince itself.

Break up the mince with a couple of wooden spoons or metal egg flips so it's not too lumpy.

At this point, I usually drain most of the fat from the mince, but this is optional!

Add the softened vegetables to the mince, then adding the can of plum tomatoes.

Now is the time for the ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce and finally the stock to be stirred into the pan. 

Finally, add in either the fresh or dried Rosemary and Thyme and pop on a lid, leaving it for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

While your mince is cooking away, add a good knob of butter/ spread to your potatoes and begin to mash until you see the velvety consistency of your liking!

After you decide your mince has had enough cooking, begin to spoon it out into a large dish followed by a layer of the mashed potato. 

Run a fork through the potatoes with a little butter/ spread to create the extra crisp.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, checking before that it's not getting too browned!

Serve with peas or whatever your favourite greens are and eat away...