By far my favourite vegetarian main meal is this cashew nut loaf.  This recipe is stolen almost shamelessly from The Vegetarian Gourmet by Paul Southey.  It should serve as an advert for that fantastic cookbook, which has been our cooking bible for many years.

The loaf is soft and moist, and has a cheesy layer of shredded red pepper and onion in the middle.  Our family of six gets through one loaf in a meal, but larger people might be hungrier still.  Typically I make two and freeze one – it freezes well.

The loaf

225g ground cashew nuts
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs (stale white ones also work!)
100g finely chopped onion
25g  butter
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
150ml milk
grated rind of one lemon
half-teaspoonful of finely chopped marjoram
freshly ground black pepper

The filling

100g finely chopped onion
225g shredded red pepper (very approximately)
25g butter
freshly ground black pepper
100g coarsely grated Edam or Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten


Set the oven at 200C (400°F, gas mark 6 (UK)).  Note that both the loaf and filling require chopped onion, so chop it all at once!

To make the loaf, mix together the nuts and breadcrumbs in a bowl.  If using broken cashew pieces, grind in a mixer together with chunks of bread for the breadcrumbs – it seems to grind better with both together.

Fry the onion in the butter until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and fry gently for a few moments longer without allowing it to colour.  Take out of the pan and add to the mixed nuts and crumbs.

Beat the eggs with the milk, lemon rind, marjoram, salt and pepper.  Pour into the nut and crumb mixture and mix thoroughly.

To make the filling, fry the onion and red pepper in the butter until almost soft but not browned.  Season liberally with black pepper and a little salt, then remove from the heat and add the cheese and enough beaten egg to bind the mixture.

Line a 1 litre capacity hinged loaf tin (I just use a bread tin) with greaseproof paper and press half the nut mixture into the bottom of the tin.  Spread the filling mixture on top, then cover with the remaining nut mixture.  One could decorate the top perhaps with nuts, but I haven’t tried that!

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes or until firm.  (In a Rayburn or Aga it seems to take longer.)

Serve hot with Béarnaise sauce accompanied with caulifower or broccoli, or (as we prefer) a tomato and onion sauce made with a roux, and carrots and potatos.

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe for Marmalade. It’s a strong, earthy, chunky marmalade which will make you grow up healthy, and slightly brown. Seville Oranges have a very short season, approximately in January. Marmalade keeps for several years, which is handy, as it’s too much work to make this marmalade every year.


4lb Seville Oranges

2 Lemons

2 Sweet Oranges

6 pints Water

6 lbs Granulated White Sugar


Wash fruit well and place into a preserving pan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer moderately fast until soft enough to pierce with a fork (approximately 1 hour). Take the fruit out, leaving the juices in the pan.

When cool, cut the fruit into chunky bits, discarding pips and retaining the juice which runs out of the fruit. Expect this cutting process to take a long time and hurt your fingers; how you cut the fruit determines how good the marmalade will be.

You can cheat and use a liquidiser very briefly, but neither your marmalade nor your soul will benefit. Return the shredded fruit and any juice to the pan and stir in the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil moderately fast until set, stirring frequently to avoid it sticking and burning.

Pot while hot, and cover when quite cold.

The fun part of making marmalade is testing it to see if it’s set yet. This is done by dribbling a bit of the cooking marmalade onto a plate which has been chilled in the fridge. After leaving for a minute or so, draw your finger through the marmalade. If you can see that a skin has formed, then the marmalade is set. Mostly of course, it’s not, so you have to lick the plate, wash it, dry it and return it to the fridge.

My plurkenbuddies have been demanding to know about Guinness Cake, so here is the recipe, stolen from the Rayburn Cookbook by Sarah Pym.

Guinness Cake is a rich fruit cake made moist by the addition of Guinness stout.  It keeps particularly well.


225g (8oz) butter or margarine
225g (8oz) soft dark brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
275g (10oz) self-raising flour
10ml (2tsp) mixed spice
225g (8oz) seedless raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
100g (4oz) mixed peel
100g (4oz) chopped walnuts
125ml (1/4pt) Guinness


Set the oven for 170 to 180C (325-350°F)


Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and the mixed spice, and add the fruit and nuts. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the Guinness and mix to a soft dropping consistency. Turn into a greased and lined 18cm (7inch) round cake tin and bake in a moderate oven for 1 hour. Reduce the temperature (perhaps by opening the oven door a little) and cook for a further 1.5 hours or until completely cooked. (Test using a clean dry knife stabbed gently into the top of the cake; if it comes out clean, it’s cooked.) Allow to cool. Prick with a skewer or fine knitting needle and pour on the remaining Guinness.