dairy-free and egg-free cooking for pleasure

without dairy

Fish baked with olive oil and Indian spices

Before cooking

Before cooking

This is a nice, and flexible, dish. You have only to remember that the fish needs to sit in its spicy coating for an hour or so if it’s going to be really flavourful. Should you not have one of the seasonings, it won’t be a disaster.

In the original recipe (from Meera Taneja’s The Indian Epicure), the fish is fried, but, in my experience, baking gives very tasty and also more presentable results, as the fish doesn’t stick to the pan.

You can use any firm white fillets, fresh or frozen: coley, haddock, hake, ling, pollack, sea bass, or cod, are some of the possibilities.

Serve with, say, an Indian spinach and potato dish, alu sag (see the Book for details). Rice seasoned with cumin goes well too (see the Book for a method).

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 med onion
  • 1.5 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • 750 g fish fillets
  • olive oil
  • garam masala
  • 1–2 lemons

The easiest way to make the coating is to whizz the following ingredients to a paste in a food processor: the coriander seeds, the cumin seeds, the roughly chopped garlic, onion, ginger, green chilli, and coriander leaves, the turmeric, and salt to taste. Add a drop of water only if necessary.

If however you are working by hand, heat the seeds to make them easier to pound, and grind them in a pestle and mortar, along with the garlic; grate the onion and ginger; and chop the chilli and coriander leaves finely. Mix all these ingredients together, adding the turmeric and salt.

Rinse and dry the fillets. Arrange them flat in a single layer in a baking dish greased with olive oil. Make two or three diagonal slashes in each fillet and spread the spice mixture all over, pushing it down into the slits. Leave in a cool place for at least an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190°C, and sprinkle the fillets with olive oil before placing them in the centre of the oven for 20–25 min.

When the fish is ready, it can be served directly from the baking dish, lightly peppered with garam masala, and with quarters of lemon and accompanying dishes on the side.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

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Dairy-free fruit cake for Christmas, Easter, and in between


This is a delightful and easy cake to produce, and we have added it to our repertoire of dairy-free and egg-free cakes (two others can be found in our book). The present recipe came from the web but has undergone some changes, and there’s plenty of room for further adaptation.

As long as you include some 600 g dried fruit, the proportions of each fruit and the fruit itself can be varied,  dried cranberries or blueberries replacing some of the sultanas, raisins, or currants, for instance. You can be as generous as you like with the (dark or light) glacé cherries and the peel, the latter being better quality when not pre-chopped. You may also want to add more or less of one of the spices, all a matter of taste.

Lard, incidentally, is the traditional fat for fruit cakes, according to The Constance Spry Cookery Book. A vegetable fat is obviously a viable option (we are anyway speaking of only 45 g – one and a half ounces – of which 15 g is for greasing the mould).

This type of cake usually improves with keeping, but I’ve not yet been able to test this!

  • 45 g lard or vegetable fat
  • 150 g candied peel and glacé cherries
  • 1 lemon
  • 360 g plain flour
  • salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (quatre-épices in you’re in France)
  • 240 g soft brown sugar
  • 240 g sultanas
  • 240 g raisins
  • 120 g currants
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C.

Prepare the tin first, greasing it inside with approx 7 g lard or vegetable fat before lining it with paper to 2 cm above the sides and brushing the paper with another 7 g or so melted lard or vegetable fat.

Chop the peel, if necessary, and the glacé cherries, and grate the rind of the lemon.

In a mixing bowl, sift in the flour, a good pinch of salt, and all the spices. Rub in the remaining 30 g lard or vegetable fat and incorporate the sugar.

In a second bowl, mix together the dried fruit, peel, glacé cherries, and lemon rind, before incorporating the fruit mixture thoroughly into the flour. Make a well in the centre and blend in 280 ml cold water.

In a small bowl, pour 2 tbsp warm water over the bicarbonate of soda and when the latter has dissolved, work it into the cake mixture with a light touch.

Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake in the centre of the oven. After 1 hr turn the temperature down to gas mark 2–3/160°C for a further hour, or longer if required. Test by plunging a skewer deep into the cake: it should come out clean.

Turn the cake out of the tin when it is cool enough to handle and see how long you can keep people off it.

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A Two-in-One Fish Dish, Well Almost

Fish in the Mediterranean is not plentiful, lots of minnows and small fry, respectable-sized grey mullet at some times of year, and notoriously over-fished tuna. However, you can almost always buy, and apparently without a guilty conscience, coley (lieu noir) or pollack (lieu jaune). When British fishmongers’ slabs buckled under the weight of catches, coley and pollack were somewhat despised, the former being known as cat fish. Nowadays they are still around but better appreciated: supermarkets promote them, and they are used for fish & chips in place of cod.

Both have an agreeable texture and taste and provide steaks and fillets of useful proportions, hence great versatility. Fish and potatoes have no need to prove themselves as a winning combination but this recipe for the two baked together has several virtues: it is easy, quick to prepare (though needs a bit of time in the oven), delicious while not demanding many ingredients, and can provide left-overs (they sound more elegant in French – les restes) that make for delightful fishcakes.

The main recipe is as follows:

Baked fish and (new) potatoes

  • 400–500 g (new) potatoes
  • 2–3 cloves of garlic
  • 1–2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 400 g fish fillets (e.g. coley or pollack or other white fish)
  • ½–1 preserved lemon (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7/220°C.

Scrape or peel the potatoes and cut them into small wedges. Spread these over an oiled ovenproof dish and lightly coat with further olive oil. Add the garlic cloves, peeled but whole, half the rosemary, the fennel seeds, if included, and salt and pepper.

Bake, uncovered, in the centre of the hot oven for 25–30 min, turning the potato over a few times. Now turn the oven down to gas mark 5/190°C and place the fish on top of the potato. Season it with the remaining rosemary, more salt and pepper, and, highly recommended if you can get it, preserved lemon, chopped small. Splash a little oil over the fish, and the potato if necessary. Cook for about 20 min, depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve from the dish. Baked tomatoes go well and can be cooked at the same time as the fish (see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the book).

For fishcakes next day:

Mash whatever is left over and, if there is not quite enough, boil and add some potatoes. Optionally, half to a whole chopped onion can be worked in as a further binder and enlivener of flavour.

Flouring your hands liberally, press two to three tablespoons’ worth of the mixture into a round flat firm evenly dusted cake, flour your hands again and repeat. Alternatively you can work them together with spatulas.

Brown the fishcakes in hot olive oil, making sure they don’t stick to the pan or you’ll lose the crispy coating that will form.

Serve straightaway, possibly with a sauce rouille and a crunchy salad, green beans with bacon, say, or vegetable, such as carrots with capers (see Olive Oil, Garlic & Parsley – the book).

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