Hearty beef and vegetable casserole

beef casserole

People who know me know how much I love casseroles. I love the fact that minutes of prep yields such a spectacular result, i love the cooking smells that waft through my kitchen, and I love the warm all over feeling I get when eating this ultimate comfort food. This version of beef and vegetable casserole is flavoured with oranges and cloves and the result is flavoursome and luscious. Enjoy and happy cooking 


1/4 cup oil for frying
1 cup plain flour
1 kg chuck steak, cut into large cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 ml red wine
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, bruised
1 orange – remove the zest with a vegetable peeler, and squeeze the juice.
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock
4 large potatoes, cubed roughly
3 large carrots, sliced
200 g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas


  1. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed (ideally cast iron) saucepan with the oil
  2. Place the cubed beef into a plastic bag and season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then put the flour into the bag. Shake to coat the beef in the flour and seasoning.
  3. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
  4. Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits.
  5. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock.
  6. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.
  7. After 1 hour add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, and mushrooms. Continue to simmer for the rest of the cooking time (1.5 hours) . Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.
  8. Serve with mashed potato, rice or a loaf of crusty sourdough.

Happy cooking!

Vegan Chocolate fudge cake with vegan peanut butter frosting

vegan choc slice cake

There is nothing like a good piece of chocolate cake. I love this recipe -it  has a  soft and fudgy texture, and most importantly an intense chocolate taste. The peanut butter frosting is silky and smooth. Perfect for a birthday or special occasion. From my family to yours – happy cooking!



  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder preferably dutch processed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 60 grams vegan dark chocolate
  • 2 cups soy or almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (not balsamic, preferably plain or cider)
  • 230 g unsalted vegan ghee (or margarine but ghee produces a softer texture)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 160 g creamy peanut butter
  • 120 g cup vegan butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup icing (powdered)  sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp non-dairy milk (soy, almond)


For the cake:

  1. pre-Heat the oven to 180°C not fan forced and arrange a rack in the middle. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans generously oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of baking paper, then spray the paper. Dust the pans all over with flour, tapping any excess out; set aside.
  2. Sift the measured flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl; set aside to cool slightly. In a another non-reactive bowl combine the soy or rice milk and vinegar; set aside.
  4. Beat the ghee/margarine and sugars in an electric mixer medium-high speed until fluffy and well combined, about 7 minutes, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low, add a third of the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Add a third of the soy milk mixture and mix until just incorporated. Continue with the remaining flour and soy milk mixtures, alternating between each and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until all ingredients are just incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread the tops evenly with a spoon or spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin paring knife around the edges, invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the bottom round of paper, and cool completely.

For the frostng

To make frosting, blend all ingredients together with mixer on medium speed until fluffy and smooth. Pipe onto the top of one cake, then place the second cake on top and cover the surface area with the rest of the frosting.



Vegan Mushroom Ragu

As the weather starts to get colder here in the Southern hemisphere, I find myself in front of my casserole pot today. This is my happy place – and this casserole is one of my favourites. I have used porcini mushrooms for richness and flavour, added to meaty Swiss brown and field mushrooms and braised them in a red wine and tomato based sauce. Served over a bed of creamy vegan mash, this is certainly one version of heaven. Happy cooking xx



8 Large field mushrooms

200 g Swiss brown mushrooms

30 g dried porcini mushrooms

2 large carrots, diced finely

2 celery sticks diced finely

1 large onion diced finely

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 can diced tomatoes

6-8 spring thyme
salt and freshly cracked black pepper



  1. Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with a cup of vegetable stock
  2. Film the bottom of a cast iron casserole dish or deep wide saucepan with oil, then sauté the carrots, celery and onion until softened.
  3. Add garlic until fragrant, then add the field and swiss brown mushrooms and mix well until covered with the oil from the vegetable frying. Saute for 2 minutes until the mushrooms get a tiny bit softer, then add the flour and mix with the vegetables.
  4. Add the porcini mushrooms and their stock, followed by the leaves of thyme.
  5. Add the wine and mix to combine well. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  6. Add the Diced tomatoes and check seasoning again.
  7. Bring to the boil, then cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer for around 25 minutes. Check seasoning and serve with creamy vegan mashed potatoes.

Happy Cooking everyone! xx

Vegan Creamy Spinach and Potato Curry


Spinach Curry


  • 2 x 250 g package of finely chopped frozen spinach (thawed) or 3 x bunches English spinach, finely chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 x 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2.5 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup soy milk


  1. Mix the flour with the milk and set aside.
  2. Shallow fry the potatoes in oil medium high heat to take on colour, then cover the pot to allow them to cook fully. Drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a deep saucepan.
  4. Add the cumin and coriander and fry for a few seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, stir until well combined, and allow to simmer until the volume reduces by about ¼, and squish the pieces of tomato until you have a smooth consistency.
  6. Add the spinach, stir until well combine, and let it cook (covered) on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the milk/flour mixture and let this cook another four to five minutes.
  8. Add the potatoes and allow to simmer for around five minutes.
  9. Serve with Roti or Rice and ENJOY!

Happy cooking xx

Super Simple Vegan Vanilla Cake


Simple Vegan Vanilla Cake

Who doesn’t love a simple vanilla cake – with a cup of tea or toasted with jam or a for a light dessert after a rich meal. This is a super simple recipe – essentially a no fail recipe, and the best thing is that its Vegan!! Perfect for last minute guests or an indulgent breakfast. Enjoy, from my family to yours!

Prep time : 5 min

Cooking: 40-50  minutes


½ cup oil
175 g castor sugar
1/2  cup water

½ cup soy milk
225 g self raising flour
1.5 tsp vanilla extract


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (not fan forced)

2. Mix all the ingredients together (in order)  and  place in a oiled bake in a 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin.

3. Place into the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out completely clean. The Cake will become golden brown all over as it cooks.

Enjoy and Happy cooking xx

Rice Stuffed Capsicum


6 medium capsicum (your choice of colour), tops removed and washed thoroughly (depending on the size you may use more or less capsicum)

For the rice mixture
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic
1.5 cups medium grain rice
1 bunch dill, chopped finely
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 x 425 g can diced tomatoes
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 x 750ml tomato passatta
2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste


Start by making the rice mixture

1. Sweat the onion and garlic in a pot until soft, then add the dill, parsley, rice, cumin, tomatoes and taste for salt and pepper.

2. Stuff the rice mixture into your capsicum and place them standing up in a deep pot. Use a pot that will take all of the peppers standing up, and that fit snugly together so they can stay upright through the cooking process. Place a small side plate on top of the capsicum

3. in a separate pot, prepare the sauce by sweating an onion until soft, adding the pasatta, cumin and salt and pepper.

4. Pour the tomato mixture on top of the pot with the capsicum. Add enough water to ensure the capsicums are fully covered and turn on the heat, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until the rice is cooked.

5. serve the peppers with plenty of the cooking sauce on the side.

Enjoy and happy cooking


Vegan Lentil Kofta (balls)

Lentil Kofta

These little balls of lentil taste incredible, like middle eastern balls of delight. They are baked not fried which means they are also pretty healthy, with only a few tablespoons of fat!
I highly recommend this recipe, it was a hit with all the family.


500 g green lentils – Soaked for at least 6 hours in water
500 g (about 3 medium) Potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 tsp minced garlic
1 heaped tsp arabic 7 spice
1 bunch coriander (leaves and stems)
1 large onion
2 heaped tablespoons vegan ghee or vegan margarine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fine breadcrumbs (slightly more if required)


1. Drain the lentils from their soaking water and pulse in a food processor with the potatoes, garlic, 7 spice, coriander and onion until very smooth.

2. Place the lentil mixture in a large boil and knead the ghee/butter through it and taste for salt and pepper.

3. Gradually add the breadcrumbs until the mixture forms a consistency that can hold its shape

4. Roll the mixture into small balls and place into a ovenproof dish

5. Place the dish in a 180 degree fan forced oven for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown

Serve and Enjoy!
Happy cooking xx

Mushroom Stroganoff

A delightful dish that is low fat and full of flavour. Enjoy!


2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp minced garlic
500 mixed mushrooms, chopped (I used button, but feel free to experiment
1 beef-style stock cub (such as Massel) dissolved in 250 ml water, or 250 ml vegetable stock
1.5 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2  bunch parsley, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sweat the onions until soft
  2. Add the garlic and 2 paprikas, and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook on a high heat, stirring often, for about 5 mins.
  4. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil.
  5. At the same time dissolve the flour in the almond milk and add to the pot, bubble for 5 mins until the sauce thickens. Check seasoning for salt and pepper
  6. Stir through parsley
  7. Serve with rice, noodles or a low carb rice such as cauliflower rice

Cauliflower Rice

It is especially hard to stay low carb when you are following a vegan diet, which is why when I discovered Cauliflower Rice I felt like it was a gift from the heavens. It is the easiest thing to make and a good substitute for rice especially when eating something saucy like mushroom stroganoff.  experiment, enjoy and as always Happy cooking xx


1 head cauliflower
salt to taste
(optional 1-2 tsp vegeta vegetable stock powder)


1. Chop the cauliflower into rough 2 inch pieces and place the whole lot into a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you can grate the cauliflower. Process the cauliflower until it resembles small rice grains

2. Place the processed cauliflower into a microwave safe dish with a lid

3. Microwave for approximately 3 minutes on your regular setting.

4. Be careful taking the dish out of the microwave and when opening up the lid. Fluff the ‘rice’ and add some seasoning, either salt or vegetable stock powder, and fluff to mix around.

Serve with your favourite main dish in full knowledge that this is the lowest carb ‘rice’ ever!


Vegan pea and pumpkin risotto



  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 350g  arborio (risotto) rice
  • 400g butternut pumpkin, diced small
  • 50g butter
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Piece of vegan cheese for grating


1. Heat the stock in a jug in the microwave so it’s quite warm. In a saucepan sweat the onion in the butter until soft.

  1. Add the rice and mix well for a few seconds to coat the grains with butter, then pour in one-third of the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until almost all the stock is absorbed. Add the pumpkin and a little more stock, and continue to simmer gently until the stock is absorbed.
  2. From then on add more stock a little at a time, until the pumpkin is soft and the rice nicely cooked. You may not need all the stock, but the texture should be loose and creamy.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, add the peas and stir through, cover the pan while keeping the heat down low. Add a bit more stock if you think its necessary – it should not stick to the bottom.

As an option grate a piece of cheese directly into the risotto immediately before serving.

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