Pinto bean cracker recipe

I’ve read a few things here and there (nicely summarized in this article) questioning whether beans should be soaked before cooking from dried. This kind of article seems to gloss over the reduction in cooking time as unimportant whereas for those worried about fuel costs and/or without a sufficiently large oven and reliant on the stovetop method it is worth it to halve the cooking time even if you have to wait longer overall. In addition, longer cooking time using the stovetop means more steam, so more condensation which is annoying to deal with sometimes.

Despite my misgivings I decided to try the no soak route with some pinto beans. It could be that my beans were just old, or not a good variety, but the results did not impress me. I got some beans bursting while others were still very firm, and the skins are the toughest I’ve experienced in a long time. Maybe I’ll give no-soak another go down the line, but for now I’m happy to do what I’ve always done, which is why I put 1kg chick peas in my preserving pot this morning, covered in plenty of cold water and won’t boil them up until later on tonight. Then I’ll portion them up and freeze most of them.

Still, I have lots of tough-skinned pinto beans to get through right now, unsuitable for stew-like uses, so I thought I’d try making some rustic crackers where the texture would add to the pleasantly munchy effect instead of being a chore.

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1 3/4 cups cooked, drained pinto beans

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup porridge oats

3 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional. I’m not sure this adds much but it was sitting around on the counter…)

1/2 tsp yeast extract (e.g. marmite), or miso paste would also probably be good.

1tsp mixed herbs (I used Italian mix which included dried peppers)

1-2 cloves of garlic or a pinch of garlic powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

pinch salt



Line baking sheet and lightly grease with oil.

Put beans in a food processor (I used the mini chopper that came with my cheapo stick blender) and add 1/3 cup water. Pulse until a rough paste is formed, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Add seeds and blend for a minute or so, stopping and scraping down again. Add oats and blend. Add rest of ingredients and blend. You should have a dough that is a bit sticky but that you can scoop up and roll into a ball-shape in your hands.

Taste a little pinch of the unbaked mix for seasoning. Obviously they’ll taste better once they’re baked and the flavours will concentrate a bit, but if they seem too bland for you then add more herbs or salt or maybe a dash of mustard or something.

Leave the dough to sit for about 20 minutes so the oats absorb excess moisture.

Take walnut-sized balls of dough (about a tablespoonful) and flatten them a bit with your hands, then place them on the baking sheet. Although they won’t spread, leave a gap because once they’re in place you can flatten them down further with the palm of your hand. I rubbed about 1/3 tsp olive oil across my palm before pressing down to get a nice smooth finish. You want them to be about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick.

Bake in a moderately hot oven (around 195c/380f/a bit above gas mark 5) for about 15 minutes (check they’re not burning after 10 mins. I don’t have fan assist and I haven’t checked my oven temp for a while!). Carefully flip them over and bake for another 5-10 minutes until they’re just starting to get a tinge of brown around the edges, so they’ll get nice and crunchy.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container. They’d probably freeze pretty well too.

Makes around 15 crackers.



It’s the final Monday (doo-doo-DOO-do….)

So, it’s the last Monday of Vegan MoFo, and with this post I’ve met my goal of a blog post a day. Some have been a bit of a fudge (mmm, fudge), but I’m pleased with some of the stuff I’ve come up with. Can’t lie that some of the ideas I had for themes made me panic a bit and start inventing stuff I wouldn’t cook for myself in the normal way, particularly the amount of pies and scones, however there is some baking I do genuinely do on a regular basis, and that’s bread.


I generally do half white and half wholemeal organic flour because I like the compromise between rise and nutrition this offers.

I weigh out what my scales tell me is 1lb flour, but judging how much more than half a pint of water I have to add (which is what my original recipe told me to add), my scales must be pretty out. I think I’m going to treat myself to some new ones with this month’s pay packet!

I divide my dough in half, then those in half, and then in half again, to get 8 pieces. What I generally do is make a tray of 6 quite flat bread rolls, which are useful for sandwiches. If I’m not going to get through the whole lot, I like to cut them in half and freeze them. Because I’ve made them flat each half can then fit straight from the freezer into my toaster.

unbaked bread rolls on baking try, held in left hand (only thumb visible)

With the remaining 2 bits of dough, I vary it according to what I fancy at the time, and if I have anything hanging around that needs using up. Sometimes I might make a spice bread, but I’ve plenty of that at the moment, or I occasionally divide those lumps in half again and make 4 pasty/calzone type things, but today I’m going for pizza-ish.

What I tend to do is slice up an onion with whatever else I’ve got around (sometimes just frozen sweetcorn), put a bit of Marigold bouillon powder and smoked paprika, and a slosh of oil in and mix it up in the same bowl I made the dough in.

chopped onion, mushrooms and tomatoes in dirty mixing bowl with small amount of smoked paprika and bouillon powder

The pizza bases are a bit of an odd shape so I can fit them on my baking sheet. And the reason I don’t just do one is because I’d be tempted to eat it all, whereas two means I can have one for lunch and one for another time.

oblong pizza bases topped with onion, mushroom and tomato

I also made hummus today, another regular staple. I buy giant 5kg bags of dried chickpeas, cook up about a kilo at a time and then freeze most of them in handy sized boxes.

Hummus in blender container with mixing spoon, viewed from above

Although the Vitamix is super for making things smooth in super-quick time, I do find it difficult to get the final scrapes of anything thick. Hating to waste things, I tend to plan stuff like this to co-incide with something like soup or stew where I can then add some water and add the watered down last bits of mixture to something else.   This time, instead I added fresh rosemary, dried oregano and some flaked almonds to make a sauce for my pizza. This sauce is nothing like cheese but it fulfils the same sort of function in terms of protein and holding the veg together.

two uncooked oblong pizzas on baking tray

And here’s my lunch!

cooked pizza shown from above on white plate, placed on floral background

If you’ve got this far, thanks for bearing with my rather boring final day’s post.

I’d also like to thank the Vegan MoFo team for their hard work, and say that I’m looking forward to next year already. Now I know how much work it is I’m going to start planning!

Blogging regularly has been a great challenge and I’d like to keep it up, so I’m going to start a new challenge for October. Watch this space…

Pie-day Friday – cauliflower and onion pie

It’s payday! I meant to make a bad title worse by buying expensive ingredients and then calling this ‘payday pie day Friday’, but you are all spared as I saw a cauliflower for only 60p while I was mooching through the market.

If you read yesterday’s entry you will know that I bought rather a lot of onions on Wednesday.

shopping trolley two thirds full of onions

I’m planning on making something like relish with some of them, but I’ve also been looking at onion pie recipes. I was taken with a suggestion from easy as vegan pie to caramelise onions and blend some into a sauce, although the layering described in the recipe sounded a bit faffy.

I sliced and started cooking 5 onions with a pinch of smoked salt, but forgot to add sugar – 20 minutes later they were still pale, but they had a great flavour.

I made a standard short crust pastry case.

uncooked pastry in pie dish with frill of excess pastry

uncooked pastry in pie dish, trimmed

baked empty pastry case

Kinda wish I’d left it with a ripple!

I cut the cauliflower into what I hoped were bite-sized pieces, and fried them in a drizzle of oil with some of the onions. I made a sauce by blending 200g tofu, 2 cloves garlic, most of the remaining fried onions, a couple of teaspoons each of English mustard and bouillon powder and (a mistake!) 2/3 of a dried chipotle, which made it too spicy. I was gilding the lily by adding that as well as mustard. I also added soyamilk and about 3 tablespoons cornflour, as I didn’t want it as firm as last week’s custard, but in fact it could have stood a bit more.

The pie went in a hot oven for about fifteen minute, with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a few squirts of one-cal sunflower oil spray.

whole baked pie

It tasted pretty good, although definitely too chipotle-y, and went pretty well with some of the rhubarb and apple chutney made earlier this year. I have a feeling the flavours will mellow and become tastier once it cools.

Flapjacks on Sunday

flapjacks with chocolate chips melting on top

I’m still feeling a bit sore-throat-esque and also have been offered some casual work tomorrow morning so I’m not sure I’ll feel like getting up early and making potato scones as originally planned. Since I’m aiming to blog every day this month, if something gets posted just after midnight that relieves the pressure for a bit longer than normal!

Instead, here are some rather substantial snacks I made a few days ago based on this peanut butter and golden syrup flapjack recipe

Since my granulated sugar was nearer to hand I used that instead of light brown soft sugar. I didn’t have enough oats by about 65g, so I topped it up with about 35g of oat flour and 30g flax meal. To make up for no brown sugar I subbed one tablespoon golden syrup with molasses, but when I came to mix it all up it looked too dry so I ended up squeezing more syrup in anyway. I also wanted them to be ever so slightly cakey so I put a couple of spoonfuls of water in.  I used sultanas and dried sour cherries instead of raisins, and I couldn’t be faffed with the topping they suggest so I just sprinkled 100g chocolate chips over the surface shortly after they came out of the oven. Apart from those adjustments I followed the recipe faithfully!

And yes, I’ve finally decided to try Instagram three years after everyone else.


Bonus cookies!


Watching The Great British Bake Off makes me hungry. Since I don’t have a television at my house, and my boyfriend (who does have one) has some kind of sport-thing he does of a Tuesday, I have to wait for Wednesday evening to get my GBBO fix.

In preparation for drooling over fancy baking this evening I whipped up a quick batch of cookies earlier. When I need an urgent dose of sugar I generally go with the ‘Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies’ recipe to be found on and then mess around with it. It may not be sophisticated, but it gets the job done. The added bonus is that the recipe is incredibly easy to remember, as it’s 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup water, some raising agent, chocolate chips and flavourings. The recipe says “a handful” of chocolate chips, which I take to mean half a cup. They don’t say whose hand it is!

This recipe is very customisable, the best received variation of these has been adding a cupful of dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas and mixed peel) instead of chocolate chips. I took them to work when the weather was chilly and people raved over them!

Today, I tried a new combination. In addition to chocolate chips, I added half a cup of chopped peanuts, omitted the cinnamon and put half a teaspoon of five spice powder instead. Not bad at all, although they made the house smell confusing, since the spices normally go in savoury food.

I also tried planting a few white chocolate chips on top of some of the cookies as soon as they were out of the oven. 




cheese-effect scones

cheese-effect scones

I’ve been messing around with nut-cheeses since I bought a Vitamix about a year ago, starting with the almond feta recipe which has been floating around for a while.

I get an organic fruit and vegetable selection delivered ever Thursday and it’s had quite a bit of sprouting broccoli in it, so I bunged some of that into my last nut cheese experiment (peanuts, almonds, garlic, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, lemon juice, olives, smoked flax-seed oil) and it gave a very strong taste which was a little overpowering even in a sandwich but worked perfectly as a cheese substitute in the first cheese scone recipe Google found for me.