Stray Kitchen: Embracing Veganuary, Steph’s recipe to cook for a vegan

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

Over a super Christmas and New Year spent surrounded by family, I did lots and lots of cooking. After a super turkey lunch, big breakfasts and far too much chocolate, like many people I am now trying to be good.

January is the Veganuary month, where more and more people cut meat and animal products from their diets. Whilst January is the worst time of year for ‘in season’ fruits and vegetables, what is around is superb, and there are some simple ways to pimp up your January vegetables to be a truly astounding experience.

I recently had a vegan cake and oat milk latte at Hustle & Co after a big walking session on the Stray. It’s one of the newest cafés in Harrogate, but these guys do vegan very well. My crumbly fruity slice was lip smacking stuff, and the young lady who served us was brilliant too.

In Harrogate we have many places that cater for vegans (and those of us want to bring plant-based food into their diet more often) and our local chefs do it so well.

So when a vegan friend popped round for tea during Veganuary, it was time to try out a new quick, easy meal… and hopefully impress!

Here’s what I cooked.

Buckwheat pancakes

Makes four large pancakes to serve two.


Mix all together in a bowl to form a smooth batter (which it does straight away).

In a non-stick pan, heat some vegetable oil (rapeseed or olive oils are great too,) then tip out any excess oil.

Pour the batter into the pan with a ladle (so you have some control over how much goes in), and use a spatula to spread it around. Unlike normal batter, the spatula is needed to spread the pancake thinly as it doesn’t simply roll around.

Cook for about 30 seconds to one minute, until golden.

Using a flipper, turn the pancake over so that both sides cook.

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You could place anything on top but here I have opted for a mix of roasted veg.


Slice the aubergine, rub with a little olive oil and place on a roasting tray.

Rip the stalks off the curly kale and discard, then rub the leaves in the olive oil and add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Place on the same roasting tray.

Rub the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil and place on the same roasting tray.

Bake at 170°C for 10 minutes, until the kale is crisp and the cherry tomatoes are cooked.

Remove the aubergine slices from the roasting tray and finish them in the same frying pan you used for the pancakes to get some golden-brown colour on them (they should take 1-2 minutes on each side).

Place the pancakes in the oven for a few seconds to warm in the residual heat from the roasting of the vegetables – there’s no need to turn the oven back on again.

Serve all items on the top of the Buckwheat Pancakes and add a dollop of Oatly crème fraiche.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes to prepare and cook, and was surprisingly delicious and fun to prepare.

Steph x


Stray Kitchen: Christmas Hacks the Stray Kitchen way

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

I love, love, love this time of year, and the feeling of festive fun is really growing in tempo this Christmas…

So how do we make Christmas easy? This is a question I always get asked, and truthfully, I don’t think catering for a large group at Christmas is easy at all. But there are some ways we can make it as pain free as possible.

Mulled wine: Everyone has a mix they love, and for me it is a bottle of Malbec red wine, shot of brandy, shot of sloe gin, a clove studded orange, three cinnamon sticks, and three star anise, brought up to the boil with two glasses of lemonade and a glass of cranberry juice. Sweeten it up to taste, and for a real trick, pour it into a slow cooker so the mulled wine is warm and ready to go when your guests arrive.

Nibbles and dips: I love a quick homemade hummus. Boil two tins of chick peas with the aqua faba (chick pea juice inside the tin) until the juice evaporates. Add crushed garlic and tahini with some Ras El Halenout (spice mix), rapeseed oil, a splash of water and lemon zest and juice. For something to dip into the hummus, try my simple recipe for Harrogate blue cheese straws.

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Starters: Jazz up your prawn cocktail with some cooked lobster and a few slices of locally smoked salmon for a real treat. For the Marie Rose classic, try adding some finely chopped soft apricot pieces. Or, if you fancy a tropical alternative, why not add some fresh mango pieces and a light curry powder to your mayo.

Time to bring in the turkey! Steph is pictured here with London based chef Valentina Harris and her assistant Cher, at the Ideal Home exhibition.

Main: The turkey is the main event. Everyone cooks their’s differently and has their own favourite stuffing mix, but the gravy often gets left to last minute. Show your gravy some love this year and really glaze the turkey tray properly, removing the fat to get all that extra flavour into your gravy. To make a light roux, whisk this onto your flour and butter mix and cook out well with a good splash of red wine and stock; add a little redcurrant jelly for sweetness and hey presto, you’ve got a lovely turkey gravy.

Pudding: To flambe or not to flame, that is the question. If you do, make sure it is on a robust serving platter: one year I had a disaster at home, when the platter broke and flambe juices ran down the dinning table! Always warm the alcohol before pouring over the hot pudding, then set it on fire just before you enter the room… making sure decorations and long hair is well out of the way!

Have fun, and remember it is your Christmas to enjoy too!

Ho Ho Ho

Steph x

Stray Kitchen: Who cares about kippers?

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

Who cares about kippers? Well I do, for one! In fact I would say they are a highly underrated. They are not only tasty but healthy to boot. A great food that we do brilliantly here in Yorkshire, and have done for years.

Recently I was watching the Hairy Bikers on TV doing their tour of Yorkshire and it brought back memories of my trip to Fortunes Kippers in Whitby. That trek up Henrietta Street is a climb! The steps up to Fortunes may take your breath away, but it’s worth the effort. Fortunes has been owned by the Brown family for 150 years, having opened in 1872. That really is dedication. Now Barry Brown has been joined by his daughter Beth, times are changing with an online shop.

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I recently helped the team at The Yorkshire Event Centre at the Harrogate showground create a canape menu for the Golden Fork Great Taste awards. The supreme product this year, “the best of the best,” was a kipper from Jaffys. The young man who collected his award is now stocked in Fortnum and Masons and Harrods to name a few.

The smoke house is the heart of kipper making. Kippers are smoked in rows upon rows of herring, lined up as if on guard. The herrings are gutted after they have been split by hand, then soaked in a secret brine for a short while. Various wood chip fires are it to create the special blend of smokes that infuse into the herrings, creating the wonder that is kippers.

For me, I like my kippers simply served. However, a kipper pate is super tasty and easy to make. To cook your kippers, simply remove the bones, blend with some melted butter, then add some cream cheese and a splash of double cream. Slowly add some lemon zest and juice before seasoning with a little salt. Delicious!

So who cares for kippers? It appears quite a few of us!

Steph x

Stray Kitchen: Power to the Pumpkin

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

With their bright cheery appearance, pumpkins are guaranteed to make you smile even on the rainiest of dull autumnal days. But do you know the difference between the crown prince and the pie master pumpkins? If I am being perfectly honest, until I went to experience Yorkshire’s pumpkin patches myself, I didn’t! Turns out, the crown prince is a great eating pumpkin with plenty of weight, while the pie master is an American favourite, bright orange, sweet pumpkin that’s perfect for pies.

Having been in North Carolina “in the fall”, I can assure you that these are the people who really celebrate the pumpkin and all things Halloween. After all it is an original American festival.  Bright orange, pale white, and yellow and green pumpkins garland their verandas like the prize offerings that they are. People really go to town with their elaborate displays, which are literally massive.

As a nation I think we are catching on, and although I am not a lover of pumpkin pie, I can see its charm. It’s the spice addition to the pumpkin I love. Last year I visited Farmer Copley’s farm shop near Pontefract, where there are over 130,000 pumpkins for you to pick and carve. I used some spices and classic Yorkshire ingredients to make a lovely pumpkin dhal – you can find the recipe here.

Steph with some enormous pumpkins, and her pumpkin dhal

The leathery skin takes some carving or peeling, but here are my tips for how to prepare a pumpkin:

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So where can we go to pick our own pumpkin locally, or a little further afield?

Lets all get pumped for pumpkin! In the meantime, I’m going to dust off my broom!

Steph x

Stray Kitchen: a booming year for Harrogate blackberries

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

Whether you are a fan of foraging or not, chances are you have done some blackberrying or brambling in your time. For me, blackberries are the wine gums of the forest – and I always end up popping them like sweets!

This year is looking like a good one for the hedgerow and the blackberries near me are thinking about ripening soon – so we have to be ready.

These luscious berry jewels are sweet and lemony in taste, deep purple in colour, and best of all in these Northern parts… they are free!

I love to go blackberrying with my dogs on a walk. I take the taller hanging fruit, they happily munch on the lower berries, and everyone is happy. The only time it goes wrong is when they get bored, because I certainly never do!

On the outskirts of Harrogate there are many who blackberry or “Go Brambling”. But the good news is, there is plenty to go around and we can all get involved. Brambles are rich and juicy, and once you have purple fingers and a full bag you know you are doing it right.

Here’s my advice on where to pick:

What to do with your blackberries

Steph’s blackberry jam tarts

With over 2,000 varieties, there can be a lot of variation in the perfume, size and type – but the end game of a delicious berry is the same.

Blackberries make superb jam, and the high acidity means it always sets.

Last year I used my blackberrying efforts in some bramble jam tarts, using some left over sweet pastry. They really were super- sometimes the best recipes for local foraged foods are the simplest.

For something more savoury, roast duck or even game carved with pickled blackberries is delicious too.

Going posh? Blackberry souffle goes a shade of purple rarely seen and is especially good if you have some compote in the centre. You could try is served with vanilla “Anglaise” or a scoop of ice cream – but in this case, not custard!

But if you’re going more traditional with a bramble and apple pie, you’ll need the custard in full boats.

Another great thing about blackberries is they freeze well – both as raw fruit or as raw pies. You could even make a batch and just bake when you need them. You can check out my pie pastry recipe here.

Happy brambling!

Steph x

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Stray Kitchen: Reading the awards submission made me tearful

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

The food awards season is in full swing, and awards are a way to celebrate success, get over those failures we all face in business, and demonstrate some strength. In fact, Garbutt and Elliot have an award titled “Yorkshire Grit” and I think it sums this up perfectly.

To see the value of an award, you only need to look on the shelf and the jar of honey with a ‘great taste’ sticker on it and it’s probably going to be the one you choose. The businesses that win get a well done pat on the back, increase their profile, and often get extra sales.

As a chef who has “been around the block a bit,” I have helped out judging quite a few awards over the years, including Harrogate Chef of the Year, Deliciouslyorkshire, Garbutt and Elliott, The Olivers, Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards, Great Taste awards for the Guild of Fine Food, Yorkshire Life food & drink awards, York’s young chef of the year, and the Craft Guild of Chefs‘ national young chef of the year.

But this year one thing stands out like a shining beacon- just how many food businesses have given so much to so many in their community over the lockdown and covid year.

In Harrogate alone, establishments like the Fat Badger were cooking for NHS staff, and chefs like young Ben Wright from Rudding Park cooked at Harrogate Hospital. Companies like Harrogate Tipple diversified into a village shop and made hand sanitiser and food banks stretched themselves even further. On top of this so many individuals cooked for neighbours and used food to bring people together without actually getting together.

As we know, some chefs have egos the size of a house. But in reality, most are quite humble about this stuff, revealing little and helping lots. I like to think I fall into this second category and not the first!  So when looking at the entries for various awards and seeing so many businesses donating to food banks and going out of their way to cook for homeless people or neighbours, these acts of kindness have actually made me feel quite teary..

I have always lived my life with the attitude “you reap what you sow” – and I think this year, there will be plenty of growing for many businesses and individuals out there. And I’m looking forward to dusting off my best outfit and celebrating everything that’s great about my beloved catering industry at some of the above awards this year.

Steph x

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Stray Kitchen: Game on at the Great Yorkshire Show

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

Great Yorkshire Show time always makes me smile – the whole county gets into a spin and excited about it… and in my book, rightly so!

With my staff pass and negative lateral flow band attached, it was time to enter the ground, trolley brimming with goodies of the catering variety, pots, pans, plates, ingredients, and a veritable larder ready for those “oh Steph have you got any…” moments (as chefs doing cookery demonstrations tend to forget something). As you can imagine, when you are in the ground it is too late to go back to your kitchens and collect it.. I was MCing the Game Cookery Theatre where local chefs inspire the audience to give Yorkshire game a try – many for the first time.

Walking to the Game Cookery Theatre, seeing friends and feeling like the show really ‘must go on’, it was amazing to be back at the hallowed ground! All those hours of prepping for the show with Michelle Mackey and the rest of The Great Yorkshire Show team were condensed into just four days.

I love the show, and always have. I remember as a young girl having a day away from the farm with my parents for a trip to the show. It was a real treat and the wide-eyed wonderment of the show is so memorable for me. From the animals and food to always getting free pens and stickers from farm machinery and feed suppliers, and loving going around seeing the sights, we really had a grand day out. I even smile at remembering the collective family groaning when Dad would say we had to “just go in here for a cup of tea” – and we kids sat legs swinging on benches as my Dad talked cows feed with a specialist.. Then my turn, as I begged for a trip to the food hall!

These days I love the Great Yorkshire Show for different reasons – the people, the food, catching up with clients and good friends, the camaraderie of delivering a belting show, and the proper Yorkshire gumption of getting through these tricky times with true grit and a smile.

There is a feeling of celebration – it is great to be out and great to be doing!

I am proud to help run the Game Cookery Theatre for the show with a super team of chefs and game specialists and under the watchful eye of Daphne the Chief Steward of Country Pursuits. This year we had Mehdi and Heather from Fodder cooking up Yorkshire Puddings with Anita Rani, and some stand out chef demos with the likes of Callum Bowmer from Horto at Rudding Park, John Rudden from Grassington House, the Coniston Hotel boys Chris Oakden and Jonny Purnell from Skipton, and another Skipton and Ilkley favourite Simon Miller from La Casita.

Together we cooked up up some stunning great Yorkshire game with a lot of cheeky banter.

Steph x

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Stray Kitchen: freezing flower show, but the chefs keep cooking

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 

The Harrogate Flower Show had bad weather this year, but in spite of the rain, it was a blooming marvellous success! Those of us who were cooking at the event were just so happy to (finally) be let out..

The plants took a battering in the rain but even the soggy ground seemed not to mind. My role this year was to cook alongside expert gardener Martin Walker, former Head Gardener at York Gate Garden and his partner Sue. We ran the cookery theatre and did 40 demonstrations in four days. Every cookery demo was coupled with expert gardening tips from Martin and his encyclopaedic knowledge of gardening.

Our gardening tips and cookery demonstrations took inspiration from salads, asparagus, courgettes, beetroots and some seasonal sweet treats. I found the tips on growing fascinating and it gave me more confidence to have a go in the garden. My potatoes now are looking great, along with a piece of guttering which Martin and Sue filled with “Cut and Come Again Lettuce”. It’s had three close shaves so far, and is still going strong…

My cookery demos where showcasing the Yorkshire produce available to buy on the day at the show. Tasked with what to do with a glut of courgettes, we demoed a courgette, beer and cheese soup – using Isaac Poad‘s sell out beer and Coverdale Cheese.

‘Feast over the Fence’ garden was great fun and Martin and Sue won the President’s Choice Award

All agreed the garden Martin and Sue so expertly made up was a beautiful thing to behold and it really had it all… raised beds full of cabbage and brassicas, pots of rhubarb and beetroots, a wheelbarrow spilling over with vegetables and fruits, a garden shed and guttering filled with salads and herbs- really the finest stage I have ever had the pleasure to cook on and with such a marvellous fun and humble couple we had a great time.

Now that events are back, I cannot wait for the Great Yorkshire Show and Harrogate Food Festival.

See you there and hopefully if the weather is better than it was for the Flower Show, we will have some fun in the sun!

Steph x

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Stray Kitchen: Chefs getting back to normal… if there is such a thing!

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 



As the Hotel & Restaurant industry and catering outlets dust off their aprons, I keep hearing fellow chefs saying “It is great to get back to normal”.

I am not sure many chefs I know are normal! I mean that as the utmost compliment – but myself and my comrades are anything but…

These past few months have been the toughest, and I’ve been hearing that many hospitality people have become disillusioned with the career and perhaps gone to do something completely different – but as a town that thrives on being hospitable, Harrogate and the food it produces needs its chefs.

Where have they gone? Some may now be drivers, carers, and shop workers or just loving having Saturday nights with their family.

Chefs are an unusual breed, as I said before. Anyone who wants to put themselves under pressure like that and thrives on it perhaps needs their head testing- but we love it.

As the final for Great British Menu gets underway this week and the chefs are in a boiling pot of creativity and competing – it makes me think, chefs will always want to create and compete and push themselves. Perhaps the chefs of tomorrow are creating in their home kitchens and making tea for their family’s tonight. Good luck to them and know that a challenging, yet promising and rewarding career is still out there. If you are a Chef that has wondered if it’s time for a change, I say wait: remember the creative side, the passion and the fun that the kitchen can bring.

Our normal IS coming back!

Being a chef is in your blood, and there’s no denying we love it.

Happy Cooking

Steph x

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Stray Kitchen with Stephanie Moon: Knaresborough Farmers’ Market

Stray Kitchen is our column all about food written by renowned local produce expert, food writer and chef, Stephanie MoonStephanie is a champion of food produced in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire and the Harrogate district. 



As a farmer’s daughter, the chance to go to a farmers’ market always seems like a great idea to me and to meet like minded people. I visited Knaresborough Farmers’ Market to speak to some of the stall holders and sample some of their tasty wares!

The truth is this farmers’ market has only just got going again since the pandemic stopped the fun, so the stall holders were in a jubilant mood to be back trading. Some have even diversified over the last year, adding to their business with online trading.

Peter and Jane from the Farmers’ Market, with Town Councillor Hannah Gostlow

No market would survive without the organisers and pictured above are Jane and Peter from the Farmers’ Market and Town Councillor Hannah Gostlow, all delighted to see the market thriving again. Jane explained things are a little bit different at the moment. In pre-covid times you might have seen the town crier, buskers providing entertainment or tastings of the foods on offer. Sadly these cannot be done at this time, but all the team seemed very proud of the market and the bustle of the stalls drawing people into the town.

Clockwise from top left: The Headbangers, Hepys Hog Roast, Gluten Freekz, The Gourmet Scotch Egg Co

Clockwise from top left: Really Indian, The Crusty Pie Company, Kick Ass Cheese, Stanley’s home grown flowers and vegetables

Clockwise from top left: Barlow’s Bees Honey, Amber’s Country Crafts, Lasagnas on the Road, Sarah’s Sweet Treats

The feast from Knaresborough Farmers’ Market


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