I blog information, news and recipes about gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, alcohol-free and vegan cooking. Right now I've been working on an exciting project where I avoid refined sugar and create recipes using a range of healthier alternatives.

Happy cooking!

ps. ask all guests if they have an allergy (because the recipes use some unusual combinations and they may not expect to find citrus and soya in the chocolate cake, for example).
pps.if you are cooking for someone with an allergy, please read my allergy page first.

American bean salad

My mother always made this at home and it’s an incredibly tasty and satisfying salad, especially when served outdoors! The marinading overnight does make a difference (it reduces the sharpness of the vinegar and onion, and makes the beans absorb the flavour of the dressing), so try to do it if you can!

Serves 4 as a side

100g fine green beans
1 tin of mixed beans
1 red onion
½ red pepper
25g sugar
50ml cider vinegar
50ml sunflower oil
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper

Top and tail the beans and chop the lengths into thirds, then cook until tender. Meanwhile, rinse the tinned beans and place in a large bowl. Add the green beans, followed by diced pepper and onion.
Make the dressing by mixing a finely chopped garlic clove with the sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a cup. Pour over the beans and stir. Leave overnight in the fridge before serving.

Strawberry ice cream

There’s something unbeatable about home-made strawberry ice cream – the combination of the intense strawberry flavour and fantastic colour make it irresistible, and you’d never guess that this one is completely dairy free! It’ll take you the best part of a day before your ice cream is ready, so start early if you want it for a particular meal.

Serves 6

400g strawberries (ideally freshly picked, juicy summer ones)
175ml tofu firm silken style
juice of half a lemon
5tbsp icing sugar
2tbsp sunflower oil
pinch of salt

Blend the tofu, oil, salt and lemon juice together using either a food processor, blender or hand blender until creamy. Then add the icing sugar and strawberries and blend until smooth. You may want to vary the amount of sugar, but if unsure err on the side of more because the sugar increases the intensity of the strawberry flavour (especially important in ice cream because it is more difficult to taste something that’s very cold). If you’ve got an ice cream maker, then the next step is a cinch – pop the mixture in and let the machine do the rest.
If you don’t, keep the mixture in its bowl and place in the freezer. After about three hours, take it out and blend again. Put it back in the freezer and repeat this action after about two hours.  An hour later, do it again – it should be more or less ready to eat at this point, but if you don’t need it straight away then pop it in a plastic tub with a lid. About 15 minutes before use, take it out of the freezer so it can melt a little. For maximum creaminess, blend just before serving.

Risotto with pea shoots and mint

Seriously, no-one could be miserable with this colourful risotto on their plate. Pea shoots add a seasonal touch and make the dish a bit special – you can often buy them bagged in the supermarket salad area, but failing that they are available from garden centres at this time of year (use baby mange tout plants and cut the tops off) or you could try and grow your own for the purpose.

Serves 4

2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
300g risotto rice
1litre vegetable stock (see my separate recipe)
3tbsp olive oil
200g frozen peas
100g frozen baby broad beans
20 small leaves mint
30–40 pea shoots
salt and pepper to taste

Dice the onions and finely chop the garlic. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan add the olive oil and heat on a medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic and risotto rice. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the stock. Cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will see the liquid becoming absorbed into the rice and a creaminess starting to develop. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the peas and broad beans and stir some more.
Slice the mint leaves into very thin strips and add to the risotto, then add the salt and pepper to taste. Once the rice is cooked (test it when the surrounding liquid has the consistency of double cream – you might need a little extra water), add the pea shoots (save some to use as a garnish). Serve a couple of minutes later, when the shoots are lightly steamed.

Warm asparagus salad

Make the most of asparagus season! This is a lovely starter for a spring day and looks smart without actually requiring much effort. If only everything was so easy...

Serves 4

8 baby new potatoes
8 chestnut mushrooms
16 thin asparagus spears
2tsp lemon juice
olive oil

Clean the vegetables, and then boil the potatoes in a pan. While they are cooking, slice and fry the mushrooms. The asparagus should have the woody bottoms removed and be cut in half. The spears should be boiled or steamed until just cooked (I have a steamer that fits on top of a saucepan, but you could use the microwave or an electric steamer).
When all the vegetables are cooked, cut the potatoes in half and arrange four halves on each person’s plate. Add some mushrooms and asparagus. Make a dressing by combining the lemon juice with 4tbsp of olive oil stirred together, and drizzle over each portion. Serve warm.

Chocolate truffle mousse: The Vegan Gluten-free Wedding Menu

This mousse has a rich, truffly texture and my husband describes it as tasting ‘shop bought, but in a good way’, which from him is praise indeed. The almond extract gives in a sophisticated amaretto flavour, but without the alcohol.

Serves 4

½ tin pear halves
½ tin chestnut puree (unsweetened)
3tbsp soya milk
1tbsp icing sugar
1/2tsp natural almond extract
175g dairy-free dark chocolate plus extra for grating/making hearts

Place the pears, chestnut puree, soya milk, icing sugar and almond essence in the food processor and blend until completely mixed and smooth. Next, gently heat the chocolate in a heavy-bottomed pan until it has almost melted. Take off the heat and stir with a spoon until the melting is complete. Add to the food processor and blend again. Pour into some form of attractive glass, grate some of the extra chocolate on the top and then refrigerate. I made the little hearts by melting a little more chocolate and spooning into a heart shape on a piece of baking parchment, then allowing to harden.

Caramelised tomato and rosemary tart - The Vegan Gluten-free Wedding Menu

This summery tart makes the most of juicy in-season tomatoes, while the fragrant rosemary offsets the sweetness of the onion nicely. It’s delicious with new potatoes and a green salad - the ideal main course for a free-from wedding breakfast!

Serves 4

For the pastry
50g cornflour
75g gram flour
75g non-dairy margarine (eg Pure)
½tbsp sugar
1tbsp water

For the filling
4 onions
3 large tomatoes
7 finger-long sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil

Oven 180C. Place the cornflour, gram flour, margarine and sugar in a food processor and blend until it forms crumbs. Add the water and knead everything together until it becomes a dough. Roll out to around 2mm thick and use to line a 20cm-diameter tart tin.
Remove the leaves from three of the rosemary sprigs and dice the onions into reasonably large pieces. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, fry the onions and rosemary leaves in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until the onions become pale brown and soft. Spoon into the pastry case.
Slice the tomatoes into thick slices (about 1cm thick) and arrange over the onions. Add the remaining rosemary in a decorative way, then drizzle olive oil over it all. Place in the oven for around 35 minutes until the top has become browned and the pastry is cooked.

Watercress soup with wasabi foam: The Vegan Gluten-free Wedding Menu

Soup this good shouldn’t be this easy, but it is! And of course it's also brilliant for a vegan, egg-free, dairy-free or gluten-free wedding. The wasabi foam adds an impressive final touch.

Serves 4

For the soup
100g watercress
1litre vegetable stock (see my separate recipe)
salt to taste

For the wasabi foam
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp cornflour
150ml soya milk
2tsp wasabi powder

Wash the watercress and remove the leaves. Heat roughly half the stock in a pan with the watercress – after about 10 minutes and when it is simmering, remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Take a stick blender (or pour into a liquidiser/food processor) and blend the mixture until all the watercress has been chopped into fine pieces and you have a deliciously dark liquid. Pour back into the pan with the remaining stock and heat until nearly boiling. Season to taste with salt.
For the wasabi foam, place the oil and cornflour in a heavy bottomed pan and stir together while heating gently. Gradually whisk in the soya milk. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to boil, and then add the wasabi powder. You should end up with a spicy, foamy, creamy mixture, which should then be drizzled into the centre of each bowl of soup to serve.