Chouchou Potato Cake

I love okonomiyaki. And gamja-jeon. This is a vegan white chick fusion of those two things with a silly Frenglish name to please my toddler (pronounced shoo-shoo, meaning cabbage cabbage*). It’s perfect for NZ winter, it’s also chewy, crispy, super quick, and it feels like junk food – which I tend to crave in winter.

I highly recommend using Agria potatoes or another starchy potato and it looks extra pretty if you throw in some purple potatoes too.

*Also a cute name for a kid or baby, or a word for favourite or ‘teacher’s pet’.


Chouchou Potato Cake

1 cup finely grated potato (don’t squeeze the liquid out)
1/2 small onion (or around 1 tablespoon) grated brown onion
2/3 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/2 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons white flour
2 tablespoon potato starch (or cornflour)


2 tablespoons vegan mayo
1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (opt)

Garnish with any or all of the following:

  • sliced green chillies
  • finely sliced spring onion
  • finely cut nori sheets
  • Korean red pepper flakes
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • grated daikon

Mix all pancake ingredients in a large bowl, get your hands in there so it gets well combined, you don’t want any sneaky floury bits. The liquid from the grated potato and the soy sauce should be enough liquid to wet the mix but it won’t be a batter, more like a sticky mess of grated vegetables. Don’t worry – it’ll stick together once cooked!

Heat a decent amount of oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Unfortunately you will need to use a non-stick pan for this. Once hot, pour your pancake mix in, wet the back of a metal spoon and use it to spread the mixture into an even pancake. Cook for 4-7 minutes until golden underneath and starting to hold together.

In the meantime mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and chop garnishes.

Loosen gently and flip. You can do this in one confident gesture (usually followed by a scramble to pick up the ensuing carnage and put it back together in the pan) or flip it onto a dinner plate and slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes until both sides are golden brown.

Slide onto a large dinner plate, drizzle with sauce, cover with garnishes and chop into pizza slices. You can also provide a dipping sauce of soy, vinegar and fresh chillies for an extra chilli hit. This is best enjoyed after a few minutes as it gets chewier once out of the pan.

Bon ap!



Chouchou Potato Cake

What Vegan Babies Eat Part 2


Anaïs has two tiny teeth! As cute as her very small toothbrush is, teething has been a bitch so in desperation I have become the type of person who makes homemade popsicles and teething pastes:

Banana Ice Bites

Blend: 1x banana, a dash of organic soy or almond milk, 1-2 teaspoons of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon of dried goji berries. Pour the mixture into an icecube tray and place 1x wooden popsicle stick into each cube (it’s ok if they fall over). Freeze for at least an hour. Alternatively you can pour the mixture into a wide container like a cake tin. Then just cut into cubes or long sticks as needed to give to baby. They can handle a fairly large chunk in their mouths as it melts quickly and is fun (and soothing) to roll around in the mouth and chew.

Homemade Teething Paste (doubles as a toothpaste)

In a bowl, mix: 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 drop of clove oil, 5 drops of strong camomile tea, 5-10 drops of Weleda Toothache Drops (or arnica drops). When well incorporated put into a clean baby food jar or small container. Rub a small amount on the gums twice a day. *clove oil is super strong so check the paste on your own gums first to make sure the dilution is weak enough for your baby.

And here is some more of what she’s eating/drinking now:

  • oranges! (Yay for August in NZ)
  • porridge cooked with cubed pears and chia and/or sunflower seeds
  • banana icecream and banana ice bites (recipe above)
  • orzo (risoni) cooked with tinned tomatoes, chopped spinach, coriander and garlic (just throw a whole piece of peeled garlic in and mash it when soft – tastes sweeter that way)
  • toast fingers with hummus, smashed avocado or cashew cheese spread (recipe below)
  • cooked, smashed black beans on small pieces of soft corn tacos
  • overcooked broccoli florets with toasted sesame seeds
  • quinoa cooked with pumpkin chunks or grated carrot
  • chunks of kiwifruit
  • cauliflower pieces roasted with olive oil (and sometimes cumin/lemon juice/paprika)
  • brown basmati rice cooked with onion, tomatoes, smoked paprika and capsicum (kind of like a baby vege paella)
  • brown lentils cooked with kale and onion
  • mushroom risotto
  • broccoli and almond soup
  • cous cous with lemon juice, parsley and a little watered-down tahini
  • cabbage miso soup (recipe on earlier blog entry)
  • cubes of tofu baked in a little fresh orange juice, a dash of sesame oil and a dash of tamari
  • vegan potato gratin
  • truffled cauliflower (see photo above)
  • salt-free kale chips
  • pasta with kale pesto
  • pearl cous cous with coriander pesto and chopped preserved lemon
  • camomile tea
  • rooibos tea


Cashew Cheese Spread

I have no idea about quantities for this… I make it like I make hummus. I’ve guessed here but please adjust to taste.

Soak a couple of handfuls of cashews for 24 hours (super cheap if you buy broken, bulk cashews). Drain, rinse and put into a blender. Add: 1 clove of garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1-2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1-2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1-2 Tablespoons of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, some water. Blend. If it’s having trouble getting smooth, add more water. Blend until super smooth. If you’ve added too much water, place a sieve over a bowl, line with linen or cheesecloth and scoop mixture into lined sieve. Press and mix with a spatula until the consistency you want – too dry and it’s not spreadable, too wet and it’s unpleasant. You want it kinda like hummus in texture. Place into a clean jar and leave overnight for flavours to develop. Keeps well for a week or so.

Experiment with adding smoked paprika or herbs. My favourite combo is some fresh thyme and parsley and lots of black pepper.



What Vegan Babies Eat Part 2

Happy Noodles

Food you think you’ll eat while at home with a young baby: Risottos, homemade pasta, gyoza, cassoulet, smoked garlic soup, cauliflower pizza, raw cakes … Basically anything that takes longer than 10 minutes or is a pleasure to cook.

Food you actually eat while at home with a young baby: Noodle Soup. Or Toast.


enter: Happy Noodles

This is my number 1 go-to meal. It’s filling while being light, it’s super fast to make, every kid I know loves it (with varying amounts of chili) and it was the first Asian-y dish my husband liked (apart from cheese sushi – it’s a thing in France. Bleurk).

It’s basically a hot and sour soup but we call it Happy Noodles after a noodle bar in Paris.

Here’s the technique for 1 large portion:

Put 2 cups of water into a pan or wok. Add 1x cube of vegetable, fake chicken or mushroom stock, 1 handful of sliced dried shiitake mushrooms, 1 good splash of light soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp white pepper and 1 roughly chopped red chili. Get your broth nice and hot then add a portion of dried or fresh noodles (I prefer fat rice noodles) and some kind of vegetable (pak choy is great). Cook for 4 minutes, take off the heat. Add 1-2 T coconut milk and 1-2tsps of Lao Gan Ma black bean chilli sauce (or sambal oelek works). Serve with chopped spring onion (or fried shallots to save time), a handful of fresh coriander and a few cashews, peanuts or toasted seeds.

For a lighter soup keep the broth clear and use rice noodles. For a heavier, richer dish use a fat udon noodles and plenty of coconut milk.

The beauty of this recipe is that it can be as easy or as complicated as you like. If it’s a long Hangover Sunday, you can add onions, garlic, ginger and coriander root and then strain the broth. You can use limes or vinegar, play with the acid/sugar ratio, make it mostly broth or mostly noodles. You can blanch each vegetable separately and place perfectly atop your noodles. You can serve with a couple of big pieces of marinated, fried tofu. You can add frozen dumplings. Or if you’re hangry and have a crying baby at your feet, you can throw everything into a pot and eat it 5 minutes later.

See below for a few of my variations.

Bon ap. x






Happy Noodles

A Good Excuse For Cookies


I’ve actually never been a sweet-tooth, give me salty or smoky food any day. But the chocolate cravings I’ve been having since breastfeeding put my pregnancy cravings to shame. Plus, since the 6-week mark (and with the hot weather) pumping has been difficult and well, mama needs her freezer supply for wine tastings. Enter: Lactation Cookies.

According to the internet the key ingredients to aid in milk supply are oats, flaxseeds and brewer’s yeast. As a vegan and pantry hoarder, I always have a packet of unopened brewer’s yeast in the cupboard, so frankly I was happy to find use for it. By the way, nutritional yeast won’t do the trick – it has to be brewer’s. *Brewer’s yeast is crazy cheap and is available in NZ at bulk stores like Bin Inn.

So here I am, hungry all the time, little time to prepare food, craving sweet things for the first time and apparently if I eat a certain type of cookie my milk supply will increase and I can pump again.

Best. Excuse. Ever.


After a little experimentation (what a chore, baking and trying biscuits..) here’s what my husband and I came up with:

Chocolate, Walnut and Chia Seed Lactation Cookies

1/2 cup vegan margarine (or coconut oil, olive oil.. whatever)

1/2 cup agave syrup (or 3/4 C sugar)

1 tablespoon chia seeds (mixed with 2 tablespoons water for 15 mins)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (soaked in 2 tablespoons water)

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2-3 tablespoon brewer’s yeast

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.

Cream the fats and sugars. Add vanilla stir. Add chia seeds. These can take a bit of work to incorporate. Then add flaxseed meal, chocolate chips and nuts. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and brewers yeast. Slowly mix dry an wet ingredients together, then stir in oats. Add a few teaspoons of water if needed. Form the mixture into 12 balls and flatten on a lined tray. Bake for 12-15 mins until edges start to brown.



A Good Excuse For Cookies

Fun with Fake Meats

A while ago I bought some vegan abalone from Chch’s Vegetarian World. It has since taken up a permanent position in my freezer, creeping me out. Honestly I had no idea what to do with it so eventually I delegated the task of preparing it to the Frenchman. I’m still not sold on vegetarian seafood in general but I have to say, this was delicious – not least because cooking with a lot of wine is every pregnant women’s favourite thing (or is that just me?).  Enjoy!

Spanish-style Abalone

 recipe by Youssef Iskrane

image (5)

1 large vegetarian abalone, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 2-3 portions of similar fake seafood – something chewy and not-too-strong-tasting)

200g fake chorizo, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, grated

3 tomatoes

250ml dry white wine

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chili flakes

salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

  1. Halve tomatoes and place on a baking tray, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Roast at 240 degrees C for 10 minutes face down. Remove skins.
  2. Heat some oil in pan until smoking hot. Add chorizo chunks and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring to avoid sticking. Add onions and continue stirring until onions take a little colour.
  3. Add white wine for 1 minute to deglaze pan. Then add the abalone, tomatoes, garlic, paprika and chili flakes. Bring to a boil and turn down to a low simmer.
  4. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with rice, bread or quinoa.

image (6)

*As I say, this dish tasted amazing but the texture of the ‘abalone’ still creeped me out. If I made it again I’d use ‘chorizo’ and button mushrooms.

Fun with Fake Meats

Food That Tastes Like Hugs

Reasons pregnancy is like one long regression into baby/toddlerhood:

  • You become increasingly clumsy and off-balance
  • You discover the amazing comfort of floating/balancing belly-down in the bath
  • You want your Mum
  • Cuddles, stretching, massage all feel 60% better than usual
  • During the 1st trimester you can’t stand the idea of vegetables and have to sneak them into dishes (this was the case for me at least)
  • Also during that picky 1st trimester you can only handle a single taste or texture at a time, and finds yourself physically separating elements on a plate.

This was one of my go-to dishes when I couldn’t stomach much. It’s from my soft, salty phase. This is not really cooking, as much as surviving on salty carbs with token green vegetable.

Warm Lemony Orzo


Bring 1 litre of vegetable or vegetarian chicken stock to the boil. Add 1 C of dry orzo, a tsp of chopped lemon rind and 1/4 C of frozen peas. Cook for 6-8 mins until orzo is soft and stock is mostly evaporated, leaving a thick, risotto-y texture. Add salt, black pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Optional – finish with a spoonful of vegan margarine, dairy-free parmesan, nutritional yeast and/or chopped parsley.

Food That Tastes Like Hugs

The Superhero Diet

Flip’s Vegan Pregnancy ‘Go-Suck-It-Old-School-Preggo-Books-And-Un-informed-Doctors’ Diet – Winter Edition

At 22 weeks I am finally winning at pregnancy. I totally thought I was going to be a whinging pain for nine months but I was only a whinging pain for three, now I’m annoyingly perky. (I’m keeping some whinging in the bank for late pregnancy, don’t worry).

My super sense of smell, which made me gag at everything not long ago, now makes me salivate at everything. And just like all good romances, being apart from good food has only strengthened my love for it.

Mostly my ‘pregnancy diet’ looks like my normal diet, it just has slightly more carbs in the form of wholegrains and I’m more aware of sneaking nuts, seeds and green leaves into everything. Below is an example of what I’ve been eating. If you would like the recipes to any of these dishes, just comment and I’ll knock some ingredients out of my memory-brain for you.

Mon Regime:

I start most days with lemon water and wholegrain toast with Vegemite, tahini, lemon juice and black pepper. Then a small coffee.

Every afternoon I drink either a fresh juice (usually ginger, apple, orange, carrot) or a smoothie (almond milk, goji berries, chia seeds, banana, mixed frozen berries).

I use around 90% organic ingredients, walk 20-30 mins every day and do pregnancy yoga every other day. Before you go thinking that I’m oh-so-fucking-virtuous, I also drink two coffees a day, one – two glasses of wine per week (70ml, not a ridiculous 250ml Kiwi pour) and I love salt (so cankles are likely to be in my near future).

In terms of ‘banned’ foods, I have stopped eating sprouts and leftover rice but I haven’t given up tahini. It’s one of my favourite foods and I figure if I use a good quality one and keep it fresh, it’s fine.

Here are some of my recent meals:

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Wilted Spinach, Pak Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms (this photo is a summer version of the salad with cucumber instead of green leaves).


Wholegrain Penne and Pumpkin Salad with Tahini, Lemon and Garlic Sauce


Vermicelli Salad (this pic has fake chicken but I usually use tofu in this salad)


Scrambled Tofu with Kale

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Quinoa and Mesclun Salad with Toasted Seeds


Green Lentil, Mushroom, Walnut and Mizuna Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette and Nutritional Yeast


White Bean, Kale, Carrot and Potato Cassoulet

Vegan Dandan Noodles


Vegan ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup


Black Bean and Garlic Soft Corn Tacos with The World’s Best Guacamole


Asian ‘Mezze’ – Sticky Rice, Miso Soup with Wakame and Kombu, Salt and Pepper ‘Chicken,’ Homemade Kim Chi, Asian Greens in Spicy Sauce


Vegan Dumpling Laksa


Red Lentil, Kumara, Potato and Pea Curry with Brown Basmati

Fat Rice Noodles in Sesame, ‘Oyster,’ Ginger, Chlli and Garlic Sauce with ‘Chicken’ and Mushrooms

Root Vegetable Tajine with Harissa and Flat Breads

The Superhero Diet