Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Vegan Haggis with Neeps and Tatties.

Gluten free and vegan haggis. I would think all three of those are weird to the mainstream eater! Haggis looks very much like a sausage overstuffed with cooked minced meat, or soy chorizo, so finely chop up all the ingredients. I chop mine by pulsing them in the food processor. I previously used mushroom powder to help with the meaty / umami flavor, as well as the fresh mushrooms which give a chewy texture, but updated the recipe to miss the dried mushroom which gave it a slightly stodgy texture. Authentic haggis contains quite a quantity of oats, and although I know that GF oats should be O.K. for my tummy, I remember feeling not so well after eating them, and haven’t given them another chance since. You could add them if you really wanted to.

The flavor of this is very satisfying. It is filling, and warming, lightly spiced, and savory. I did wonder whether I should throw a wee dram of whisky into the mixture, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that to single malt scotch. (Update: I tried some with a little whisky, and daughter #1 was not at all keen, so we’re leaving it out.) The texture of the filling is soft and hearty, and contrasts well with the chewy rice-paper covers. All served with gravy and mashed tatties or swedes: very homey and satisfying.

Make 12 individual haggis, enough for 6 folks.

2 tsp cooking oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) dry red lentils, rinsed
20 fl oz / 2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tin or 10 oz drained, cooked, black or red beans
1 1/2 oz / 6 tbsp ground pecans
1 tbsp Braggs Amino Acids (or other GF soy sauce, for salt and color)
12 x 8” round rice papers for wrapping

Bubbling haggis

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the onion and carrot for 5 minutes.

Mix in the mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the lentils, water, salt, pepper, nutmeg and ground coriander, and simmer gently, uncovered, until the lentils are no longer crunchy.

Add the remaining ingredients (except for the rice-paper wraps).

Stir, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently until the haggis filling is a thick, spoon-able consistency.

Check that the lentils have fully softened, and if not, add another 4 floz of water and continue simmering.

Turn off the heat, cover, and put to one side while you compose the haggis parcels.

Cooked haggisSet up a frying pan wide enough to hold the rice papers, with 1/2” of water, heated until finger hot.

Place one rice paper in the hot water, holding it down with your fingers so it doesn’t curl up on itself. Allow the rice paper to soften for 20-30 seconds, until soft and pliant.

Transfer the rice paper to a plate; place 1/4 cup haggis mixture in a 2” by 1” sausage in the center, then fold the rice paper first over the short sides of the sausage filling, then roll the haggis up to complete the casing.

Put the haggis on a warmed plate to one side, covered with tin foil to keep warm, then repeat with the next rice paper, until all the mixture is used up.

Serve hot, with mashed potatoes and swede (neeps).


Burger Buns

Burger bunsYou may or may not know this. A nice little trick with bread involves knowing that high cooking temperatures will give a thicker, crunchier crust, and lower cooking temperatures result in a thinner, softer one. So, if you want your bread to have a soft almost non-existent crust, much like burger buns, then a lower cooking temperature is required.

I normally cook my almond brioche bread at a medium temperature (~360F/180C) to get a medium amount of crust. To get these soft, thin crusted baps, I drop the temperature to 320F/160C, though I suspect that lower would work, too. Additionally, I wet the surface of the dough before it goes in the oven, to delay the formation of the crust (due to the surface drying out) so that the dough can continue rising in the oven for a little longer. I happen to love the mild (but not non-existent) flavor, and soft, flexible texture of this almond brioche bread, but if you have a favorite GF bread mix, you can just try dropping the temperature to make burger buns.

This recipe makes 8-10 burger sized rolls

1 recipe Almond Brioche dough

Line a cookie/baking tray with parchment paper, and use a serving spoon to form 8-10 equal sized mounds. Spread the batter out with the back of the spoon into patties, 3/4″ high, by ~5″ diameter.

Now, use wet fingers in small circular motions to gently smooth the top and sides of the buns. Re-wet your fingers frequently. This will give a smoother external texture, as this dough doesn’t smooth out on its own very well.

Leave the rolls to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Put the tray into the middle of a cold oven covered lightly with parchment paper to prevent over browning, and turn on the oven to cook for 35 minutes at 320F.

When the rolls are lightly browned, and spring back when prodded, remove them from the oven, and cover with a clean kitchen towel while they cool, to help keep the crust soft.


Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad

California is in the clutches of a drought, even by our normal standards. Humidity levels have been down below 20% for ages, and temperatures are hovering around the 80’s (26-32C). We’ve had less than 1/3 of our normal rainy season precipitation ….. so we’re eating salads.

There’s something rather attractive about this leafy salad, speckled with gold and crimson fruit. It’s a good salad for warmer, late winter days, when oranges are fresh off the trees.

Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad with black olive hummus.

Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad with black olive hummus.

1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (or this homemade version)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 – 3 oz baby lettuce leaves
2 oranges
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts (lightly candied, if liked)

Vigorously beat together the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and maple syrup with a fork to make an emulsion.

Wash and dry the lettuce, and put into a large bowl.

Peel the oranges, cut the flesh into dice, and mix with the cranberries and walnuts.

Add half the fruit/nuts to the lettuce with half of the dressing, and toss with hands or salad servers to combine.

Sprinkle the remainder of the fruit/nuts and dressing over the top, and serve immediately.

Pineapple and Mango Smoothie / Cocktail

Frozen Pineapple and Mango with rum.

Creamy frozen pineapple and mango with rum.

This recipe has just been requested by Madeleine of Nottingham in England, who came to stay with us during the summer, and appreciated this cold drink in the unaccustomed, California heat. That’s my excuse for posting a frozen smoothie recipe when the east of the US is experiencing the coldest weather it has had in a couple of decades …. though to be honest, here in California, we’re having mild summer weather, humidity levels down at 12%, and no rain. Again. This place is parched, so maybe a frozen drink would be a good idea right now.

This serves 2.

1 cup (8 fl oz) frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup (8 fl oz) frozen mango chunks
2 cups (16 fl oz) sweetened, non dairy milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
1 tbsp honey (optional) … or 2 tbsp Bacardi if this is destined for adults (also optional).

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on highest speed until smooth.

Hand out to all your kids (without the Bacardi) who won’t really realize they’re getting their day’s quota of fruit.

Orange and Ginger Steamed Pudding

Reminiscent of warm, sticky gingerbread, this pudding is definitely comfort food. Opinions in our household are split over whether to peel the decorative oranges before use, as they make eating the pudding a little more difficult, but add an interesting tang. Once you’ve collected all the ingredients together, putting the pudding together is a quick process, though steaming it still takes a bit of time, and the house does fill up with homey sweet gingery smells while it’s at it.

The marmalade I use for this is a fairly tart, tangy, homemade affair. If your marmalade is sweet, you may want to avoid adding the sugar as well.


Gluten free, warm Orange and Ginger Steamed Pudding.

1 orange, thinly sliced for decoration
2 eggs
1/4 cup marmalade (optional, for topping)
1 1/2 oz margarine, plus extra for greasing pudding basin
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
8 oz blanched almond flour
4 oz tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup marmalade, for flavoring
1/4 cup sugar (see note, above)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 fl. oz. (3 tbsp) non-dairy milk, if needed

Grease the inside of a 2 pint pudding basin; line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, and re-grease that again, too, to stop the pudding from sticking to it.

Arrange the slices of orange artistically around the bottom of the bowl, and (if using) pour the 1/4 cup of marmalade onto the orange slices.

Beat the two eggs in a food processor for 10 seconds.

Add the margarine to the egg, and beat for another 10 seconds.

Add the apple sauce, and beat that in too.

Add the remaining ingredients (except for the milk), and beat briefly until all has been incorporated. If the mixture seems at all dry, add the milk; it should be a thick batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pudding basin, and cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then a sheet of foil. Secure the lot with a piece of string such that steam is prevented from getting into the pudding, and a handle is formed for ease of removal from the steamer.

Using a steamer (or a large saucepan with a trivet or crossed forks in the bottom to prevent the pudding from scorching on the bottom of the pan) boil a pint or so of water (such that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the basin). When the water has reached boiling point, put the pudding in the steamer/saucepan, add a lid to stop the water from evaporating, turn the temperature down so the water maintains a gentle simmer, and cook the pudding for 1 1/2 hours. Check that there is still water in the pan every 1/2 hour or so, and if it’s low top up with boiling water.

Once the steaming time has passed, remove the pudding from the steamer and the parchment and foil lid, put a serving plate over the top of the pudding basin, and in one swift movement (using oven mitts) turn the pudding basin and plate over as one. The pudding should fall onto the plate, and you can use the edge of a table knife to lift the edge of the basin so you can remove it.

Cut into slices, and serve hot with custard, cashew cream, or soy ice-cream.

Orange Salad or Dipping Vinegar

A lot of my salad recipes call for Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar as sold by Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, much of the world is deprived of my favorite store, so I decided to mix up a more accessible alternative. I asked daughter #1 to taste test the two side by side (to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself that the mixture tasted great), and her reaction was “Wow!”

Orange Salad VinegarThe mixture is thicker than regular vinegar, but this is not a disadvantage when making salad dressings. The orange flavor is quite pronounced and fresher than the original, but the clean cutting properties of the vinegar are preserved. Although I figured this as an alternative to vinegar for salad dressings, it would work really well as a dip for bread cubes, too, much as you get balsamic vinegar and olive oil in fancy Italian restaurants … though you’d have to double or triple the recipe!

Makes about 2-3 tbsp of ‘vinegar’.

1 medium size orange, juiced
1 tbsp white salad vinegar (such as white balsamic)

Thick, reduced orange juice.

Thick, reduced, orange juice.

Boil up the orange juice in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes until reduced to about 2 tbsp in volume and thick enough to leave a trail when the spatula is dragged through it.

Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the white salad vinegar. Use within a day or two in salad dressings and such like.

Home Fried Potatoes

I rather figured that everyone in the US knew how to cook home fries, and felt that putting them on the blog was daft of me, despite the fact that they’re normally gluten free, and my kids love them. However, it would appear that I am wrong. An American friend of mine just asked for my recipe for them, and my daughter said she needed a recipe for when she left home (and yes, this is a repository of recipes for my girls), and they’re not so common in England anyway, so perhaps a recipe is needed! For the Brits: these are like mini, pan-fried, roast potatoes.


Lightly browned breakfast potatoes (homefries). It’s easy to crisp them up further, but my daughter likes them a little softer.

Note: In my opinion, this is easiest to make if the surfaces of the potatoes are dry before they are fried. I will usually cook them as jacket/baked potatoes in the oven/microwave, then peel and cut into cubes before frying. Make sure the fat is good and hot before adding the potatoes in order to avoid having the potatoes soak up too much of it.

Another option is to peel and dice the potatoes, then simmer in salted water until just cooked, then drain and allow to cool slightly (and dry) before continuing to fry them. Obviously, left over potatoes work well here.

I did try cooking the potatoes from scratch with the onions and peppers, but the onions/peppers had a tendency to burn if cooked before as well as with the potatoes, or didn’t brown at all if added after the potatoes had crowded the pan.

Oh, and as an aside: if you ever find you have left overs, these are excellent thrown into creamy broccoli soup as lumpy bits after the soup has been blended.

1 lb potatoes, cooked and cubed (see note, above)
1 + 1 tbsp vegan margarine (Earth Balance) OR canola (rapeseed) oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 cup (8 oz) red/orange/yellow pepper strips
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
paprika/cayenne pepper (optional)

Warm the first half of the fat in a large frying pan.

Cook the onion and red/orange/yellow pepper strips in the fat until they’re soft and starting to brown. Remove from the pan, and put to one side.

Add the remainder of the fat to the pan, and once it is hot, add the potatoes. Keep them moving around with a metal spatula/fish slice, to reduce sticking, scraping the bottom of the pan as necessary (those crispy bits are tasty, but also stop the potato cubes from browning further, if not scraped off).

Fry until they start to brown on all sides (this will be quite quick, if the surface of the potatoes is dry and the fat is hot). Add the onion and peppers back into the hot pan to reheat, sprinkle salt and pepper (and paprika or cayenne pepper, if liked) over the vegetables, and serve hot for breakfast, with scrambled tofu and some ranchero sauce (for example).