Vegan Chocolate Pie and New Christmas Traditions

Soundtrack: Tripping with Nils Frahm

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Pie from Healthy Living James.

Star Rating: FIVE FUCK YEAH STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Well it’s been a while since I wrote. My last post was pre-quarantine, pre-moving in with my boyfriend, pre-watching the madness of 2020 unfold in a way that would be comedic if it wasn’t so terrifying. We are very fortunate and are able to work from home and serendipitously had signed a lease on a place that has enough room for us to have our own workspace without being on top of each other before we knew we’d be both living and working together for at least a year. Remember when we were horrified to think we’d possibly be working from home until summer 2020?

Being home so much, I have cooked a lot this year. And with (theoretically, at least) so much more time on my hands you’d think I would have written more about the things that I’ve cooked, but alas… I did start another Instagram account to keep track of some of the better things I’ve made, so you can follow @Foodziemagoo if you’re so inclined. I don’t update it very often either.

Anyway, I made a ridiculously delicious vegan chocolate pie that I found on @healthylivingJames’ Instagram account, and it’s a winner. Full recipe can be found in this post, and I recommend following his account too because he posts loads of delicious looking food.

I made this pie a couple of days before Christmas because I like cooking and had some time to kill one afternoon. Turns out I only needed about 15 minutes to make the whole pie, and then it needs to sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set. I have literally no changes or suggestions to make to improve this pie – it’s bloody delicious as it is, and doesn’t need anything else. I would put some baking paper in the bottom of the tart pan because the base did get pretty clingy and hard to remove, but it’s possible if I’d greased the pan better this wouldn’t have been an issue.

I couldn’t find ground almonds, so I just put whole almonds into the Ninja blender and ground them up that way. They were a little courser than the ground almonds in the video, but I didn’t want to push it too far incase I inadvertently made some kind of almond butter instead. The chunky almonds in the base were super tasty and was a nice textural balance to the creamy filling.

I’ve now decided that this will become a Christmas tradition, preferably to be eaten while watching Klaus, which is hands down the best Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. We cracked into it on Christmas Eve Eve, because we’re goddamn adults and we make the rules around here. Now, days after Christmas there’s still about a quarter of the pie in the fridge because it’s pretty rich, and because Derek also had half a Yule Log to work his way through (a very kind gift from a friend who knew her and her husband wouldn’t eat a whole log by themselves) and some crack brownies left from the batch I’d made for our neighbours. There’s a fair amount of sugar and chocolate in our house right now.

Sweet and Spicy Tofu and Soba Noodles and Renewed January Enthusiasm

 Watching: Cooked on Netflix

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Soba Noodles from New York Times Cooking (might be paywalled so copied below as well. I’m not sure if that’s legal but given about three people read this blog I hope it’s OK?).


It’s been a while. Like a super long time. In 2018 year I set myself the goal of cooking 52 new recipes and writing about them. I didn’t get even close, writing up only 14 new recipes (even though I definitely cooked more than that – but nowhere near 52) and 16 in total. In 2019 I did no writing at all. So why take it up again? The most useful benefit I found of having written about what I’ve cooked is that I can easily find the recipe again, and I have notes on what I changed – which is the most important part as I normally make a few tweaks and fail to remember them the next time around.

So onto the food. This recipe was wonderful and has opened my eyes to the idea of combining colder salad vegetables with a hot base. The noodles have a real kick to them because of the black pepper, and this touch of spice pairs nicely with the cold cucumbers and radish. You could absolutely add broccoli, spinach, shredded carrot or zucchini, mushrooms, snow peas, or any number of other veggies if you wanted to mix it up too – the noodle base would match with most ingredients.

I thought I hadn’t changed much this time, but it turns out there were a couple of small tweaks. I doubled the amount of garlic, because two cloves is basically no garlic at all, and I do this with everything I cook. I also halved the oil (another common adjustment), and there was still plenty for both cooking the tofu and coating the noodles. I did all the vegetable prep ahead of time (not my normal process, but slicing green onions into matchsticks is very time consuming) and pressed the tofu for about 20 minutes to remove a bunch of the water so it would brown better. I also finished off the bowl with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds because they never go astray.

One change I would make next time is to season the tofu before frying. It could have handled a little bit more of something – tofu being the flavour void that it can be. The comments on the recipe suggested mixing the noodles in 3/4 of the sauce and then coating the tofu in the sauce separately as it was easier (and could potentially address the above issue), but mixing them both to get them evenly coated wasn’t too difficult. YMMV.

This comes highly recommended, and I give it bonus points because you can also eat it at room temperature making the leftovers good for lunch.

Sweet and Spicy Tofu With Soba Noodles


  • 1 ½ (14-ounce) packages firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) package all-buckwheat soba noodles
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch green onions, white and green parts separated, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  •  cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  •  Pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • 4 mini or 1 large, thin-skinned cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  •  Handful of cilantro leaves, for serving
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving


  1. Drain the tofu in a colander, or dry on paper-towel lined plate while you prep the remaining ingredients, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil for the soba noodles.
  2. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil. When the oil shimmers, add the tofu in a single layer, in batches if needed and cook until golden on all sides, turning as needed when the tofu releases easily from the pan, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Lift the tofu out of the pan with a spatula and transfer to a new paper-towel-lined plate.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the soba in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes (or according to package directions), until just al dente, stirring frequently. Drain and rinse in cold water until the noodles no longer feel sticky.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and whites of the onions to the skillet, along with the remaining tablespoon sesame oil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the oil is fragrant, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
  5. Add cooked and drained soba noodles to the pan, along with soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, red pepper and reserved green onions; toss together until the noodles are coated. Gently toss in the tofu until all the pieces are covered in the sauce.
  6. Remove from the heat, and sprinkle cucumber, radish and cilantro on top. Serve warm or at room temperature, with lime.

Crack Brownies and Showing Love Through Fat and Sugar

Soundtrack: Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ on Audible

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Salted Caramel Crack Brownies by Anna Jones

Star Rating: FIVE FUCK YEAH STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you want to make people feel simultaneous happy and special, and if you are also interested in being showered with love in return, then this recipe is for you. You can also make these brownies lactose-, gluten- and nut-free and they still taste incredible, meaning you can cater to various intolerances without compromising on the final product.

This is another Anna Jones recipe, and I cannot sing her praises enough. Her vegetarian cook books (‘A Modern Way to Cook‘ and ‘A Modern Way to Eat‘) over-deliver on taste and inventiveness while still being approachable and easy to make.

The reason I first made these brownies was Anna’s own intro to the recipe “Find me someone who doesn’t like these and I’ll deliver you a batch myself.” I have made these probably about 20-30 times and have never had any left over, and in one case someone swiped a whole bunch of them when I took them into work which, while annoying, is definitely high praise.

There is only one tricky bit to these and it’s the only part of the method that I don’t agree with. The caramel for these brownies takes much longer to make than the recipe would suggest, and it took me many attempts before I realised that I had to let the caramel bubble for an additional ~5-10 minutes so that it would set properly.

Also, there is a point during the caramel making process where you add the milk (or milk substitute) to the melted sugar and butter and the cool milk shocks the molten hot sugar and fat combination into a petrified candy ball. DON’T FREAK OUT. The recipe seems to suggest that you just need to put the saucepan back on the stove and in a few minutes it will be thick caramel. Instead, I always have to spend a lot of time beating that ball into submission while the milk warms up (but doesn’t boil) around it. I’ve tried using warm milk and this does help a little, but simply put the temperature at which sugar melts will always be higher than the temperature of the milk added.

Finally – make sure you use BAKING PAPER and never waxed paper to line the shallow tray you’re going to pour the caramel in. I have made this mistake so many times that I threw out my waxed paper (which I can’t recall ever having an actual use for, so I’m guess I bought in error in the first place).

Making the brownie batter is really straight forward and adding the caramel to the brownies is too. It’s also important that you line the pan they’re baking in because these are some sticky brownies.

The recipe says to cook them for 25 minutes, but I always check at 20. The caramel will have turned into molten pools of deliciousness, which can make it difficult to check whether the brownie mixture is cooked underneath. My preference is a consistency that’s like a dense fudge in the middle, with a little crunch around the edges. They will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven so I err on undercooking and they have always turned out great.

And that’s it! Once they’ve cooled they won’t last very long. They are appropriate for all occasions including (but not limited to): Holiday Parties, Break-up Commiserations, ‘Just because’ for your co-workers, Birthdays, Dinner Parties, New Babies… Really for anyone who likes things that taste nice and who you want to make the world a slightly brighter place for a moment.

Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tomatoes and Dumb Luck

Soundtrack: David Chang’s Ugly Delicious – Episode 3: Home Cooking

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tomato

Star Rating: Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Last week I got my first delivery from Imperfect Produce. They send you a box of ugly but tasty fruit and veg at a much reduced price. It helps reduce food waste by finding a home for the misshapen, scarred, irregular, discoloured, or overstocked – but perfectly good – produce that may otherwise be thrown out.

What I didn’t think about when scheduling my first delivery was that I had a very busy social week and would be out of town for a night, meaning I was unlikely to have much of a chance to cook. Understanding the irony of producing food waste as a result of trying to reduce food waste, I was committed to using all the contents of the box (apples, oranges, onion, sweet potato, beetroot, fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and avocados for reference) and so far have made some delicious roast veggies and upped my fruit intake.

What was leftover was the fennel bulb and some tomatoes that were starting to show early signs of ageing. After a weekend where I’d maybe overcompensated for running a half marathon with the liberal consumption of carbs, I was also in the mood for something light.

Enter Google. I searched for ‘fish fennel recipe’ and landed on this braised fish dish from Martha Stewart.

Simply put, just go and make this dish. It’s so simple. You simmer down the fennel and tomatoes in the braising liquid for 12-15 minutes before adding the halibut which cooks at a gentle bubble until the flesh is opaque. I substituted the white wine by adding a touch more water and some apple cider vinegar to give it acidity. The recipe says you should just serve the fish with a spoonful of the braising liquid, discarding the vegetables, but I love fennel and didn’t want to waste all that deliciousness.

Instead I put a handful of baby spinach in the bottom of a bowl, placed the halibut fillets on top and then poured over all the braising ingredients. The halibut was cooked perfectly, the lemon and vinegar gave it a clean kick, and the fennel added a brightness and texture that made the whole dish moreish.

If you want to make something that looks far more impressive than the effort required, this is your dish. I’ll be adding it to my rotation for nights I want something healthy, but I don’t want to work too hard for it.

Old Faithfuls: Seattle Salmon Bowls

Soundtrack: Atlanta Monster, Ep.6

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: Seattle Salmon Bowls

Star Rating: Five reliable fuck yeahs ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fucking ‘bowls’. For some reason us consumers have fallen prey to this transparent and uninspired form of food marketing that suggests that if we put any old recipe into a bowl it is magically transformed into something new and exciting.

You know what most bowls are? Salads.

And for those from the sweeter end of the spectrum, you know what makes absolutely no fucking sense? Smoothie bowls.

Why would you make a smoothie – arguably one of the lowest maintenance foods around – into a finicky high maintenance affair by requiring someone to eat it with a spoon? It’s madness.

Having said all of that, my friend Debby-Lee sent me this recipe last year and it’s so delicious that I can overlook the ‘bowl’ element. And, in this case, the bowl makes sense because when you mix it all together it forms a balanced, texturally interesting, and downright tasty meal. It’s hard to make this in single servings, which always makes me happy because it means I can eat it two days running #singlelife.

A note on modifications: As I may have mentioned a few times, I will find any and all opportunities to wedge more veggies into a meal, and this is no exception. I roast a head of broccoli cut into florets at 420F for 20 minutes while I’m getting everything else together. Depending on what’s in the fridge, I’ll sauté mushrooms in sesame oil, wilt some spinach, grate some zucchini – whatever’s around. I also use Lotus Food’s Forbidden Rice in place of brown rice, because it is dark and nutty without being too chewy or overpowering and doesn’t take forever to cook like some whole rices.

A word of warning: Be careful how much wasabi you use in the dressing. I LOVE wasabi, but the first time I made this I followed the recipe to the letter and it blew my head off. I still ate the whole meal, but there was an element of physical challenge involved.

Also, depending on preference you should be conservative with the sesame oil. I only add a few drops to the dressing and it’s enough for me. I would find the amount listed in the recipe to be overpowering.

It’s not a show-stopper if you don’t have furikake, but I highly recommend you grab some because that shit is the bomb. It’s made of seaweed, dried fish, sesame seeds, and some other seasonings, and adds a slightly sweet, earthy element to the dish. You may recognize it as the stuff they shake onto your poke bowl that you’ve never really known what it was.

Timing is semi-important to this dish. First, I turn on the oven for the broccoli and let it heat up, and then put the rice on. You have a good 20 minutes where there isn’t much to do as the rice steams and the broccoli roasts, so I use this time to prepare any other vegetables I’m adding to the bowl.

I prefer to wait to cook the salmon until everything else is almost or completely ready. Overcooked salmon is a travesty, but I don’t want it super raw either and getting it just right means you’ll want to dump it directly on top of the other ingredients and start eating. You may be better at time management than me, but after many iterations of this recipe the only way I consistently get it how I want is by leaving the salmon until last.

Do not get discouraged by what may look like a long list of ingredients or by all of the above tips. This is a really easy recipe and much more impressive taste-wise than the effort you’ll put into it. It’s also very good for you, and like totally on trend, so you should definitely try it #bowls

Chickpea Pancakes and Dreams Come True

Soundtrack: Spotify’s #ThrowbackThursday Playlist

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: Jumbo Chickpea Pancake from Oh She Glows


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

Guys. GUYS. You have to make this as soon as you can – I’ve even created a new category for my blog called ‘Make this immediately’ because of how passionately I feel about it. I vaguely followed this recipe from Oh She Glows but honestly, the only real rule you have to stick to is using equal parts chickpea flour to water. For one serving I used ½ C of each and it was a good size for breakfast.

But let’s take a step back and to see how we arrived here. While there are very few foods that I don’t like, I am surprisingly picky about breakfast. I’m vehemently opposed to sweet breakfasts – initially they make me feel sick, then about an hour later I’m hungry again. Cereal makes absolutely no sense – why would you put something crunchy into something wet? Jam should only be served with scones. Pancakes are dessert. But I digress…

Most mornings I have two pieces of toast (Ezekiel bread because it’s got loads of grains in it, and is about the only bread I can find in the US that’s not full of sugar). One piece has a soft-boiled egg with hot sauce, the other has ¼ of an avocado and some salt and pepper. It’s tasty, has enough bulk to keep me full until lunch (most of the time), and is healthy. But who wants to eat the same thing for breakfast every morning? I’ve been on the look out for savoury alternatives for a while now, and have tried out breakfast rice bowls, zucchini slice, and asparagus and goats cheese frittata. They were all delicious, but they need to be made in bulk and require a bit of time and forward planning.

The beauty of this recipe is that there is almost negligible preparation time, you can make it in a single serving, and use whichever vegetables you have to hand. I used thinly sliced onions which I sautéed in the same pan I then used to cook the pancake, eliminating any extra clean up (WIN!). I also had some coriander and basil hanging about, so these were thrown in too.

Basically, dump ½ C of chickpea flour into a bowl, ¼ t of garlic powder, a shake of chilli powder, ¼ t of baking powder (for lift!), some salt and pepper, and add ½ C of water, then whisk until there are no lumps. Add your choice of vegetables and mix until evenly combined.

Heat a pan over medium heat and spray with oil. When warm, pour the batter into the middle and spread out evenly. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes until it’s semi-set in the middle and you can flip without it folding or breaking. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the middle is cooked through. Serve topped with avocado, hummus, tomatoes, hot sauce, an egg, cheese, or whatever you fancy.

I will be making this again for breakfast tomorrow, and am a little sad I’m away this weekend because I’ll have to wait until Monday to have it again. It’s that good.

NOTE: It’s also vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, high protein AND delicious. This is the dream, people.





One Skillet Chicken with Buttery Orzo and Limitations

Soundtrack: My Favorite Murder, Episode 104

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: One Skillet Chicken with Buttery Orzo

Star Rating: FIVE FUCK YEAH STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m typing this with one hand because I had a bad fall snowboarding this weekend. My left arm is trussed up in a sling, swollen and bruised and fairly disfigured, and my movement is so limited that I can’t put on a bra or socks. On the bright side, I didn’t break anything, and I get to have a bra assistant for the week (fancy way of saying one of my friends has accepted the role of doing up my bra each morning when I get to work).

Because of the pain and lack of movement, I thought I might miss making a new recipe this week. The thing is, I was cooking 2/3rds of this dish for friends who just had a baby, and had already been to the grocery store to acquire the ingredients. I was faced with a load of spoiled food – something which I am actively trying to avoid – or getting creative with the preparation.

The chopping portion of this recipe is not particularly onerous, only requiring you to chop one leek and one fennel bulb. Whilst probably not safe, turns out you can chop a vegetable by leaning on it to hold it still. Not leaning so hard that it hurts your dumb injury, but hard enough that the little fucker doesn’t roll away. It wasn’t the most uniform vegetable chopping of my life, but it did the job, and all my digits are still intact.

Onto the food itself. Goddamn it was tasty. And this is surprising because – confession time – I’m not a massive fan of chicken. I find it boring and bland and unimaginative – the tofu of the meat world. But in this context it just works.

As outlined in the recipe I cooked the chicken thighs with the skin on, especially because some of the fat which renders is used to cook the vegetables. Upon serving I did choose to remove the skin because I don’t really like it all that much and it seems like completely unnecessary calories. If you like chicken skin, it looked golden and crispy, and you do you, boo.

But the real star of this recipe was the orzo. I’d forgotten that orzo even existed! In this recipe you cook it with the leek and fennel for a few minutes before adding stock so the grains char a little bit first. The cooking method is similar to cooking risotto, adding 1/2 a cup of chicken stock at a time until it absorbs.

What really brings all the flavours together is the tablespoon of butter (I use lactose-free butter, because I’m lactose intolerant – another limitation) and the juice of half a lemon. It takes the dish from kind of interesting to over-the-top incredible. It gives the orzo a silky lustre, and the lemon adds a top note to the earthy vegetables and cuts through the richness of the butter. I honestly had to stop myself from having a second serving because I still plan to get this food to the aforementioned friends. I give this recipe my first five stars of the year and will be making it again soon. And you should too.