Veggie Burgers (and veggie nuggets)

These are great made with fresh vegetables and even better if you grow your own.  However, you can also make with frozen veg for a cheap and easy meal that’s full of flavour.


1 cup sweetcorn
1 cup broad beans
1 cup of peas
1 medium sized carrot – grated
½ sweet potato – grated
1 onion – grated
½ cup of tinned or pre-soaked, cooked and cooled red kidney beans
¼ cup plain/all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup oats
1 small bunch of coriander/cilantro or basil
1 tsp Cajun spice
1tsp salt
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
Oil for frying

For Serving:
Toasted burger buns or flatbreads
Salad leaves
Swiss cheese slices
Relishes and sauces
Sweet potato fries

Put everything in the food processor and roughly pulse together.  Don’t over-blend as the mixture will be too wet and sticky.

Scrape the ingredients into a bowl and put in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF

When the mixture is firm, form your burgers or nuggets and lightly coat with flour, tapping off any excess.

Gently sauté your burgers or nuggets until lightly browned on either side.  This should take 2-3 minutes each side.

Place the burgers on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and bake for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.  While they are cooking, toast the burger buns in the pan, or place the flatbreads in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Build the burgers with whatever sauces are your favourite.  My burger has classic ketchup, swiss cheese and lettuce.  The nuggets are in a flatbread with plenty of hot sauce!


These burgers and nuggets are a delicious on their own, but even better served with sweet potato fries.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes – allow 1 per person for a large potion
1 tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp salt
A few grinds of black pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp Cajun seasoning
½ tsp cayenne (optional to make them extra spicy)
1-2 tbs olive oil

Mix the salt and spices together – adjust quantities to taste

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into long thin fries – around 1cm x 1cm and place in a large bowl.

Prepare a baking sheet with a non-stick liner, or use a non-stick pan and pre-heat the oven to as high as it will go – 250ºC/500ºF

Toss the sweet potato fries in the oil, using your hands to fully coat them all over, sprinkle over the spices and salt and toss again to make sure all the fries have a good coating of oil and seasonings.

Spread out on the baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd and place in the hot oven.  Reduce the temperature to 220ºC/425ºF and turn several times for even cooking.  They will take around 25 to 30 minutes to cook and become crisp and just catching on the ends, be careful not to let them burn.

Nectarine and Raspberry Frangipane Tart

At this time of year, I love all the lovely, ripe stone fruit that’s around.  I think my very favourite summer fruit of all is a nectarine.  They seem to be available all the year round in the supermarket, but despite inviting red skins, they are invariably crunchy and flavourless when you bite into one.  The perfect nectarine is only really available in summer and should be sweet, juicy and an absolute delight to eat.

Nectartine and Raspberry tart

This tart is the perfect summer dessert with fragrant frangipane, melt in the mouth pastry and topped with perfectly ripe nectarines and raspberries.  This tart was devoured very quickly by the family.  You could use peaches, which are also super good at this time of year, but I tend to skin them first as the skins tend to be a little thicker.

200g plain/all-purpose flour
100g cold unsalted butter Cut into Pieces
40g brown caster/superfine sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 egg yolks
Iced water if needed

Frangipane filling:
Seedless raspberry jam
140g ground almonds
100g brown caster/superfine sugar
½ tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
50g flour
1tbs orange zest

2-3 nectarines sliced in crescent shapes
A handful of ripe raspberries

Sieved, warm apricot jam to glaze

For this particular recipe, I have used a 36cm x 12cm rectangular tart tin, but it will also work for a 23cm round tin or you can use four individual 8cm, shallow tartlet cases.

Nectarine tart2

Place flour, sugar, cinnamon if using and salt in the food processor fitted with the steel blade and mix.  Add the cold butter and pulse until just combined.  You should still be able to see small pieces of butter in the flour.  Add the yolks and pulse until the dough just starts to come together, using 1-2 tsp of the iced water if needed.

Tip out the dough and use your hands to form it into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line your tart tin, pricking the base with a fork.

Line with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, rice, pebbles or whatever you are using and bake blind for 10 minutes, uncovering and then baking for a further 10-15 minutes – until the pastry is dry to the touch. Leave to cool a little.

While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling.

Frangipane filling:
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted.  Mix in the almond extract, zest and eggs, added one at a time, making sure each is well combined before adding the next one.  Then add the ground almonds and finally stir in the flour until just combined.

Spoon a layer of raspberry jam over the cooled crust and then fill with the frangipane filling and top with the nectarine segments.  You don’t need to push the fruit in, the filling will puff up as it bakes and encase the fruit in the tart.

Bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and a cocktail stick come out clean.

Nectarine tart

Leave tart to cool a little and either dust with icing sugar or use the glaze below and serve.  This tart is good warm or cold, but won’t be around for long as its so delicious.

5-6 tbs apricot jam
1-2 tbs water

Heat gently in a pan until the jam melts and stir in water to thin slightly.

When the glaze is runny, remove from heat and strain out any fruit pieces into a bowl and brush onto the tart.

The fruit can be amended to whatever is good and in season.


Prawn and Avocado Vol-au-vents

Return of the Prawn vol au vent

prawn plate

The family Christmas party.  My earliest memories are of family Christmas parties – one on Christmas Eve and one on New Year’s day.  This consisted of my parents, maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles taking it in turns to hold the party.  The New Year’s day party sadly got discontinued (something to do with people feeling delicate and not in the mood), but the Christmas Eve one still goes on to this day.

My beloved grandmother who left us several years ago now, was famous, or rather infamous, for her 70s style prawn vol au vents.  Frozen cases filled with defrosted prawns and smothered with a lethal dose of Thousand Island dressing that came out of a bottle. Every year she made them and every year they were left on the buffet table. I used to feel sad for those sad rejects of Christmas.

Long after my grandparents stopped holding the annual parties, I used to wonder why no one ever ate them. She didn’t eat them herself as she suffered from Coeliac disease and couldn’t tolerate gluten.  I decided it was high time to reinvent the prawn vol au vent and make one that people would eat.  What’s not to like – crisp puff pastry, juicy prawns and maybe a bit less of the bottled thousand-island dressing.

When I thought about what to put in the pastry case, my thoughts turned to fresh prawn salads I have enjoyed and I don’t mind a nice 70s prawn cocktail either.  I was thinking dill, lemon and avocado.  These are more summery ingredients, but could still hold their own on a Christmas buffet table I think.

I’ve made my own cases here with store bought puff pastry, but you could easily do this with ready made cases, found in the depths of the freezers in the supermarket.  Another option is to make a larger one would be perfect served as an appetiser or lunch dish served with salad leaves.

Other optional extras could be to add skinned and de-seeded tomatoes, cut into tiny dice, but for my small bite sized ones here, I have kept it simple with prawns and avocados.

prawn closeup

2 packs of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen, but kept fully chilled
450g/15oz cold water prawns/shrimp
2 ripe avocados
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg yolk and a little milk to make an egg wash
6 king prawns with tails left on to adorn the top (optional)

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbs prepared horseradish
Juice and zest of the other half of the lemon
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce (Optional)
Small bunch of dill, reserving some for garnish
Paprika (Optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F

Place one sheet of the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and egg wash the top.

Place the other one directly over the top and cut out your pastry cases, they can be round, square, heart shaped, whatever you like.  Then with a slightly smaller cutter, press into the top layer of the pastry, taking care not to cut into the base layer.

Brush the cases with egg wash

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown and leave on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Whisk the dressing ingredients, except for the paprika together in a small bowl.

Scoop the flesh from the avocados and cut into dice, toss with the lemon juice in a bowl. Then add the prawns.

Spoon on enough dressing to moisten, but not swamp the prawns and gently turn to coat.  Fill the cases with the mixture and garnish with sprinkle of paprika and a little dill.  If you are making the larger version and really want to go all out, then top with a king prawn as well and be proud to bring back the prawn vol au vent!

Prawn closeup2