DIY Tofu Press

I take no credit for having ‘invented’ this, but it’s so simple to do that it would be daft not to share. The acrylic sheets cost £3.50 from eBay (including the postage) and the bolts and wingnuts about the same from a local shop. It took a couple of minutes to put together and will save endless amounts of future faffing about with hand-squeezing, improvised weights and kitchen roll. Well worth the ‘effort’.


2 x 6mm acrylic sheet, around A5 size (210x148mm)
4 x 8x100mm bolts with matching wingnuts (washers optional)

Drill four 8mm diameter holes in each corner of the acrylic sheets, around 20mm in from the edges. Put a washer on each bolt then put the bolts through the corner holes. Screw on the wingnuts. Done.

To use, simply put your tofu* between the sheets and lightly tighten up the wingnuts until it’s held in position. Put the press on its edge on a plate and give the wingnuts a twist or two every minute or so until the tofu offers up a fair bit of resistance but doesn’t split, then leave for another few minutes to drain completely.

That’s it.

*For extra-chewy / absorbent tofu, freeze it first then allow to defrost before pressing.

DIY tofu press

Punk Rocks, Bread Rolls

Having finally got a fully functioning full-sized oven for the first time in years, I’ve returned to breadmaking and baking with a vengeance.

Making your own bread is pretty quick and pretty easy, and most of the actual time involved is spent waiting around (drinking tea, smoking, listening to punk rock, that kind of waiting around). I can knock up a loaf of bread in less time than it would take me to walk to the shops to buy one. And I can customise it to suit my particular fancy of the day.

This is a ciderfied adaptation of a beery bread recipe I came across years ago. The end result is a roll with a nice crust, a soft and chewy inside and a slightly herby sweet-sharp flavour.

Cider Rolls
Makes 8

500g seedy grainy bread flour (the one I use is 20% seeds and grains)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried sage
A grind or two of black pepper
2 tsp fast-action (instant) yeast
Around 300ml vegan cider (a fruity medium dry is ideal)
1 tbs sunflower oil plus a bit more for the kneading
1 tbs malt extract

Mix the flour, salt, sage and pepper together in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and mix again. Add the tablespoon of sunflower oil and briefly stir through, then make a well in the centre of the flour.

Pour in about half of the cider and add the malt extract. Use a spoon to start to bring the mix together then get your hand in there and start squidging it together properly. Add more cider until there’s no dry mix left and it’s formed a ball. The dough needs to be soft but not too sticky.

Now to knead the dough. Describing how to knead would be a bit long-winded. Luckily there are a couple of great vids with instructions on the BBC website, one that describes using oil instead of flour to stop the dough sticking to your worktop (sunflower oil is fine for this mix), and one that goes through the ‘how to’ basics. Using these methods, get kneading. You need to be fairly lively about it if you want to get great bread, so don’t slack! I find this dough takes around 8 mins to get there, but your mileage may vary.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces of roughly equal size and shape into roundish roll-shaped balls. Put onto a lightly oiled tray or unoiled silicone baking sheet, roughly equidistant apart, and cover with a piece of lightly oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise in a warm room until doubled in size (around 2 hours in my house).

Heat the oven to 220°C, placing a metal tray in the bottom. Remove the clingfilm and place the rolls on the middle shelf. Pour half a cup of water into the metal tray and quickly close the oven door – the water produces steam which makes the rolls go crusty. Bake for 10 mins, reduce heat to 200°C and bake for another 10 mins. They should be now lovely and brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Great with something smoky and pickled inside (some sort of vegan ‘bacon’, salad and Branston is about as good as a bread roll gets) or with a bowl of my smoky cider casserole. In the last pic, I used some piri piri hummus and salad which hit the spot nicely.

Bread rolls 1

Bread rolls 2Bread rolls 3

Cranberry, Orange & Port Sauce

Apparently, there’s some kind of event coming up that involves scoffing loads of roasted stuff. This is a simple but quite fancy sauce that should go nicely with that sort of thing. It’s quick enough to knock up when needed, as long as you’ve got an hour or two for it to cool before serving.

Makes about a large jam jar’s worth.

  • 250g fresh cranberries, washed
  • 100ml fresh orange juice (2-3 oranges)
  • Grated zest of half an orange
  • Grated zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tbs port
  • 150g sugar
  • Small piece of cinnamon bark

Put all of the ingredients in a small pot over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring from time to time. Don’t be scared by the popping cranberries!

Reduce the heat as low as possible, cover, then simmer for 15 mins. If the mixture bubbles up and out of the pan, just leave a small gap at the edge of the lid.

Remove the cinnamon stick with a clean spoon and either pour straight away into a freshly-sterilised jar, or allow to cool and put into a covered container then keep it in the fridge until needed (where it will theoretically last for several days).

Serve with all manner of savoury roasts and pies, or anything else that sounds like it would go well with it.

Noms, Not Bombs!

Soy Not Oi! 2The people behind the classic vegan punk cookbook ‘Soy, Not Oi!’* have got back together to produce a second part in honour of their friend and original SNO! contributor Joel, who sadly died earlier this year.

They’re looking for contributions to the new book – anecdotes about the original SNO!, stories about Joel, special features on vegan living, and original recipe contributions from anyone who’d like to send them one to test out.

I’ve submitted a handful of dishes already. Two have been accepted (devilled chickpeas and coconut, lime and ginger cheezecake), and two are on the ‘to taste’ list (spicy potato balls and cider-battered onion rings). There may be more to come if inspiration strikes.

More info over at the Soy Not Oi! website, with regular updates via their FB page.

*UK folks can get the original from Active Distribution, US peeps should try AK Press.

Potato & Watercress Soup

Another quick, cheap and easy recipe for a nice lunch or as part of a hearty winter banquet.

Serves one as a lunch (well, it does if you’re like me and can happily devour a pint of soup) or two as a starter.

  • Knob of marg / 1-2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed (optional)
  • 1 medium potato (around 200g), diced into 1cm pieces
  • A good large, loose handful of watercress, stalks and all, roughly chopped
  • 500ml hot light stock / water
  • 1 tsp fresh herb of choice, chopped (parsley and basil are both good)(optional)
  • A few tbs milk / vegan cream / stock / water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the marg / oil in a pot over a medium heat for a minute then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the spuds (and garlic if using) along with a grind of pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.

Pour on the stock / water, bring to a soft boil then cover. Cook until the potatoes are just about soft enough to eat then add the watercress, cover again, and cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove from heat, add the herbs then liquidise everything. It’ll probably be slighly too thick, so add your choice of liquid to get it nice and creamy – you should end up with around 500ml of soup. If you can do it in a proper liquidiser, you’ll end up with a silky smooth and slightly frothy liquid that’s a joy to shove in your gob.

Pour back into the pan and reheat briefly while stirring gently until just starting to bubble. Give it a quick taste and season some more if needed. Pour into bowl then pour into self.

Pasta With Walnuts And Mushrooms

This one’s dead simple, dead quick and dead-free.

Recipe for 1 hearty appetite, scale down / up as needed.

  • 100g pasta of your choice (I like conchiglie)
  • Knob of margarine or 1/2 – 1 tbs veg oil
  • 1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced (use chestnut mushies if possible)
  • 60g shelled walnuts (pieces are fine)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 125ml vegan cream (or 1 tsp cornflour mixed in with 125ml soya milk)
  • Fresh shredded basil (optional), salt and pepper to taste

Get a pan of water on the boil and cook pasta according to instructions. If you’ve got the rest of the ingredients ready(ish), you should be able to get it together in around 10 mins easily. If the pasta finishes before the rest of the recipe, just drain it then leave it covered until you’re ready.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, shaking or stirring often, until starting to darken, then pulse them in a food processor for a few seconds so they’re chopped into small bits and set aside.

Add the marg / oil to the pan and melt / heat for 30 seconds or so, then add the onion and fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue to fry for a few more minutes, again stirring regularly, until the mushies are cooked to how you like ’em. Add a good grind of black pepper, throw in the walnuts and stir through for 30 seconds, then add the lemon juice and give it another 10 seconds of mixing.

Add the cream and stir through for a minute until it’s hot. If you use the milk / cornflour combo, pour in slowly while continually stirring to avoid lumps.

Finally, throw the pasta in the pan along with the basil and mix until everything’s coated with everything else. Give it a taste and add any extra salt and pepper if you need it. Slop into a big bowl and eat. Make sure you’ve got some salad on hand too. And a nice glass of wine.

Walnut & mushroom pasta


Falafels have kept me alive and healthy when I’ve been visiting places where veganism is an almost unknown quantity. They’ve maintained me in a similar state even where veganism is well understood as they’re one of the cheapest ultra-healthy foodstuffs you can buy. A pitta stuffed with falafel and salad is pretty much everything you need to sustain full fighting and drinking strength.

They’re also dead easy to make at home with stuff that any self-respecting vegan should have in their cupboard, fridge and garden / windowsill. Once the mix is made, it takes mere seconds to cook and serve ’em up. With the summer settling in and lazing about with mates being the best way to spend an evening, falafels are the perfect accompaniment.

Makes 10 falafels, scale up as needed.

  • 175g / 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½-1 tsp salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed / finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley and / or coriander, chopped
  • 1 fresh chili (red for spicy, green for not quite so), finely chopped or a good pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • A good grind of pepper
  • Veg oil for frying

Rinse the chickpeas and soak in cold water for 24 hours. Drain then pat dry in a tea towel.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a pan on a low heat, shaking often, until beginning to colour and release a lovely smell. Grind them coarsely in a pestle and mortar or spice mill.

Uncooked falafel

Uncooked falafel

Put the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse for a minute or two. You’ll need to stop regularly and scrape down the sides to make sure they get properly smashed up. About halfway through add the rest of the ingredients and blitz until fully combined. The finished mix should be gritty (like couscous grains or bulghur wheat) rather than totally puréed. Remember too that this is the basic recipe, you can jazz ’em up with different flavourings as you see fit.

Put the mix into a bowl, cover with clingfilm, and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge.

Pour oil into a wok to around 1″ deep, just enough to cover the falafels, and put on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until nice and hot. Take about a large walnut’s worth of mix and flatten slightly into a small burger shape. Put as many falafels as will comfortably fit into the wok. Cook for a couple of minutes each side until golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and place onto kitchen towels to soak up any excess oil. Alternatively, deep fry at around 175°C.

Serve in pitta or tortillas with a load of salad and, if you really like chickpeas, a big smear of hummus too. For more punch use a chili sauce. You can also make a tahini or soya yoghurt sauce to drizzle over, or maybe try a squeeze of lemon or lime. A couple of fresh mint leaves roughly torn and sprinkled on also works really well. In fact, customise ’em however you like. It’s all good.

Cooked falafel

The finished article

No-Fail Nut Roast

I’ve been using this recipe, with various twists, for more than twenty years, and it’s never let me down. I don’t claim any credit for its creation. That goes to Amanda Sweet, author of the long-out-of-print Vegan Health Plan. If you can find this book second-hand, grab it. I’d rate it as one of the best books on vegan nutrition out there, and the recipes generally make good on their promise to deliver tasty and wholesome vegan food. It may appear to be a bit wholefoodish, but the end product is usually at least pretty decent and it’s definitely a firm foundation for creative vegan cooking.

Serves 4.

  • 175g (wholemeal) breadcrumbs
  • 175g finely chopped nuts (one type or mixed e.g hazel, cashew, walnut)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs margarine
  • 150ml strong stock
  • 1 tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 tsp yeast extract or miso
  • Rind and juice of a small lemon
  • 1 tsp each of dried sage and thyme
  • Black pepper

Preheat oven to 190C and grease a 1 litre ovenproof dish or 1 kilo loaf tin.

Fry onion and garlic in margarine on a gentle heat until soft. Remove from the heat and add the nuts, breadcrumbs, tomato pureé, yeast extract / miso, lemon rind and juice and herbs. Season well with black pepper and mix thoroughly. If you’ve not made breadcrumbs before, it’s dead easy – just blitz chunks of fresh or slightly stale bread in a food processor / blender until they resemble breadcrumbs. It’s usually best done in two or three lots to stop the blade getting clogged up.

Add enough stock to moisten and bind the ingredients together – more for a moister roast, less for a firmer one that can be sliced. Just don’t make it too sloppy.

Press into the prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for an hour. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes to brown the top.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and remove from the dish ready to slice for serving (you can also leave it in the dish and serve it straight from that). Plate up with roast tatties, heaps of veg, lashings of gravy and a glass of whatever you like, scoff, burp and feel content with life.

It’s easy to play with this mix too – I often finely dice a couple of mushrooms and add ’em to the onion when I’m frying that then put a layer of thinly sliced raw mushroom in the middle of the loaf when I’m pressing it into the tin. I’ve done a similar thing with a layer of herby stuffing. A grated carrot or two makes a nice change, and the author also recommends trying a grated cooking apple (which I haven’t, yet).

The firm version really does slice well, and is great in a sandwich with a bit of sweet pickle. Reheating is easy in the microwave, or you can even fry it if you don’t mind a bit of extra fat.

Red Lentil, Coconut & Lime Dhal

This is my own adaptation of one of my favourite comfort foods, the humble lentil dhal, made more sexy and substantial with the addition of a load of lovely veg. It goes great with plain basmati rice, a good leafy salad and maybe a chapati too. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients either, it’s only a few steps to actually pull it all together.

Serves 4-6.

  • 1 tbs oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 200g carrot, diced
  • 200g potato, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 200g red lentils
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3cm knob fresh ginger, shredded / finely chopped
  • 2 tbs coriander seed
  • 2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seed
  • 1 tsp onion seed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 250g fresh tomatoes blitzed in 200ml water
  • 600ml water
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • A big handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil over a medium-low heat and add the onion, carrot and celery. Fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly, then add the spuds and continue to fry for a few minutes more until the veg is just starting to soften. While it’s cooking, dry roast the coriander seeds in a pan then crush them in a pestle and mortar or spice mill.

Add the garlic, ginger, crushed coriander seed, cumin seed, mustard seed, onion seed, chili flakes and turmeric powder to the veg mix and stirfry for another couple of minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and water, mix in the lentils and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and gently boil for 10 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, cover again and then simmer for another 30 minutes until the lentils are soft (if it all starts getting a bit thick, just add a bit more water). Stir in the lime juice, coriander and salt to taste and you’re good to go.


Mushroom & Lentil Crumble

Now’s the time of year to start thinking about heartier foods, the kind of solid scran you need to get you through the long cold nights and grey days. Crumbles are ideal, and not just the sweet ones that you can pack with seasonal fruits (blackberries in particular are superb right now). This recipe provides a substantial savoury mouthful that sits well with mashed spuds, Savoy cabbage, carrots, green beans, peas and gravy (don’t scrimp on this, half a pint per person is my standard measure).

Serves 4.

Mushroom & Lentil Crumble


  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 50g toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 4 tbs (1/4 cup) nutritional yeast or 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 75g vegan marg
  • Pepper to season


  • 100g dried Puy (French Green) lentils
  • Bay leaf
  • (Olive) oil for frying
  • 175g mushrooms (try chestnut), halved and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 banana shallots, finely chopped (you could also use a large onion or a leek)
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs fresh sage, finely chopped
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 60 ml Madeira / sherry / other wine / stock
  • Pepper to season

Bring a litre or so of water to the boil, add the lentils and bayleaf, boil rapidly for 10 mins then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins until lentils are soft.

While they’re cooking, make the crumble topping by first mixing the wholemeal flour, oats, hazelnuts, nutritional yeast, thyme and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the marg in chunks and start rubbing it into the dry mix until it’s well combined and resembles chunky breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Now for the filling. Add some olive oil or marg to a frying pan over a medium heat. Put the shallots and celery in the pan and fry for 5-10 mins, stirring regularly, until the shallots are just beginning to caramelise (turn brown). Then add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for a few minutes more. The mushrooms should soften and start releasing their juices. Mix in the fresh sage then give the whole lot a good grind of pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce if using. Pour in the alcohol and continue stirring until most of it has evaporated, then sprinkle on the 2 tsp of flour and cook for another minute, still stirring.

By now, the lentils should be ready. Drain them and pour some of the cooking water (a few tablespoons should do) into the mushroom mix. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, so you end up with just enough thickish sauce to coat everything. Remove the pan from the heat, add the drained lentils and give the whole lot another good stir to mix it up.

Pour the mushroom and lentil mix into the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish (around 15-20cm diameter) then cover with the crumble topping and lightly press down. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for around 40 minutes until golden then serve with all the trimmings. For extra comfort, have a glass of mulled red wine or cider too.

1 2 3