Dinner

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry

 

 

We had this for breakfast! Might not be everyones bowl of morning happiness but Jane and I love curry for brekkie, a pleasant habit we picked up at train stations and little bus stops in India. We wanted the all-time classic ‘Chana Masala’, but we didn’t have chickpeas!? What’s going on there?!! I feel like I have failed our household. Still, it lead to this creation which I was so pleased with, I felt the urge to share and write and celebrate the beauty of a simple curry.

SPICY WAKE UP CALL

We were getting tired of the smoothies and bowls of nuts and fruits and things routine, we wanted some SPICE in our early, sleepy eyed life!  When the grey tickles us, as it can at this time of year, we need to put some rainbow flavours and magic into our food.  Spices are magic dust right?!  Does any food have as much pizazz and down right tastiness as a deep and potent curry?  It can enliven the senses.  The sheer complexity of flavours mingling and merging, having a massive party all over your taste buds?  This curry doesn’t have to be eaten for brekkie, but do let us know if you try.  Ditch the fry up this Sunday AM and get spicy!!

I’ve been to India many times, it has become my second home.  I love living a life of contrasts, living on a hill in middle of nowhere, slightly mossy, Wales, straight to the honking depths of down town Delhi, thats my kind of contrast.  Mix things up.  Keep things vibrant and interesting.   For me, India is the country with everything going on within its borders, travel there is rich.  I know I go on about the food all the time, but, it is incredible.  Consistently.  Mind boggling in variety.  Like I’ve died and gone to a Dhaba.

Intensely orange – Pumpkin this time of year they be.

HIDDEN TREASURES (AND PICKLES)

If you’re looking for the best spices and Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi/ Nepalese etc ingredients, I recommend a regular visit to your local Asian shop/ supermarket.  It’s where all the best ingredients will be hiding and normally for very reasonable prices.  I find them a perfect location for spice worship.  Eastern cooking treasure troves, designed for real food lovers to disappear into for days, reappearing with carfull’s of fantastic ingredients, pickles and inspiration.

I say, take the afternoon off and have a good luck around, ask for help and guidance.  For me they’re like a flavour library for a cook, sifting through the ingredients and always finding something new and interesting to take home and play with in the kitchen.

The curry powder we used here was recommended to us by an Indian man in one of my favourite Asian supermarkets in Newcastle.  He wasn’t wrong, its brilliant, fiery and fragrant.  Curry powder has a bit of a bad name, but its just the same as any spice mix like bharat, ras el hanout etc.  If you buy a decent one, it works well.  Of course, making your own is the holy grail of any spice enthusiast.  But having the time and means to do that can be a challenge.  This is a quick dish, so lets keep it simple.

This is no traditional curry, but its not far off.  I’ve made this curry super easy for you, I’d love you to cook and enjoy it!  With only two spice mixes, garam masala and curry powder, which most of you will have knocking about in your cupboards and a quick cooking time.

If you don’t have the spice mixes, just try making your own up using things like turmeric, cumin and coriander for the curry mix, adding a little cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom for the garam masala.  Could be a very nice experiment!  I add red lentils to thicken the sauce up and make things hearty and substantial.  I used pumpkin, because its their ultra orange time of year, but use any vegetables you like here and a nice idea is stirring some greens in just before serving, a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves is cool.

In Nirvana, this is breakfast!

India, we miss you!x

Recipe Notes

I like the curry quite thin, more a thick daal than a chunky curry. Better for dipping warm chappatis into!  The lentils will just keep sucking up the water, so just keep some warm water handy when cooking, preferably a recently boiled kettle (easier) and top up the water as you fancy.

Mash it up!! Your garlic and ginger and chilli as best you can, blending them or whacking them in a pestle and mortar is best.  Releasing all their vibrant potential.

Leaving the curry to cool slighty, let it sit for 10 minutes with a lid on, will help the flavours to mix and mingle, get deep and meaningful.

I’ve gone easy on the chillies because Jane is anti-chilli, but you go wild if you like!

The lemon and coriander to finish are extras, but the lemon especially, will add a lovely citrus twist to the generally sweet curry, it also seems to re-vitalise the spices a little, bring the flavours to some kind of glorious crescendo!!!!  Swadishtx

The chickpea chapatis in the photos are made by whisking some gram flour, water and salt together, until a double cream texture forms, and frying in a little oil.  Simple, gluten-free, healthy, tasty…….

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Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry  Serving suggestion – eat outside, in a garden.

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry
The Bits – For 2

1 small onion (sliced)
1/2 tbs cooking oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 inch ginger – roughly 1 heaped tbs (finely grated)
1/2-1 green chilli (finely diced)

250g black beans
75g red lentil – 1 big handful (washed)

200g squash/ pumpkin – 2 handfuls (diced)
300ml hot water
2 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
1 1/2 tbs curry powder

1 heaped tbs garam masala

Roughly 2 teas lemon juice

Handful chopped coriander (optional one for the coriander lovers out there)

 

Do It

In a large sauce pan, fry the onions until they are texture like sun (golden brown), then stir in your garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for a minute and then add the lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, curry powder, squash, water and stir together.  Bring to a boil.

Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom. Add your garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in a little more water if its getting too thick.

Once the squash is nice and soft, stir in the lemon juice, check seasoning and serve. If you like coriander, sprinkle some chopped coriander over the dish. I like it with warm chapatis or chickpea chapatis, dip them in and enjoy!  I also served it with some green mango pickle.  One of my favs.

 

Foodie Fact

Pumpkin is full, full of good things.  Especially this time of year when they’re bang on seasonal and hopefully quite local.  Very orange, means goodness.  Lots of vitamin A, one cup contains 200% of your daily need.  You’ll be seeing in the dark in no time.  It’s got loads of fibre and pumpkin is also said to keep our skin shining.  Bananas are famous potassium sources, but pumpkin actually has considerably higher levels of potassium than bananas.  Vitamin C, also in the mix somewhere, they’re just one of the best things we can eat at this time of year and throughout winter.   Superstars!!

PS – Please don’t throw away the seeds, clean them off and roast them for a while in an oven.  You will not regret the slightly time consuming picking orange gloop off them.

 

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Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

 

Smoky Cashew & Black Bean Mole with Tofu Bacon (Vegan)

Mole sauce is such a Mexican classic!  A full-on fiesta of flavours; spices, chilli, smoky chipotle, creamy black beans, chocolate and here I’ve added some cashew butter instead of the traditional peanuts.

These beans are quite a mouthful!  Spicy, chilli, creamy with a tickle of lime at the end and when served with smoky tofu bacon and all your favourite Mexican condiments; salsa, avocado/ guac etc you’ve got a Mexican feast.  There is a black bean & cacao recipe in Peace & Parsnips, this is a new twist on that really.

I was lucky to travel from the North to the South of Mexico by car a good few years ago.  Zig zagging down Mexico I did munch the odd taco and was blown away by Mole!  I’d never heard of it before and was mesmerised by the complexity of it, the stories of how it takes days to make (something to do with grinding and roasting all the ingredients).  It seemed like such a legend!  It is.  Normally served as a treat during a massive, joyful party, which are common in Mexico, so much so that ‘Ir a un mole’ (Go to a mole) is used to say ‘Go to a wedding’.

Mole comes in all shades in Mexico, of which Mole Poblano is probably the most famous, the flavours of which, if not the techniques of cooking, my mole beans take after.

How many savoury dishes are enhanced and inspired by chocolate so effortlessly and deliciously?  I have used Willie’s 100% Chulucanas Peruvian Cacao, bought by the block, you will find it in supermarkets and of course, on line.  This is the best cacao I’ve ever tasted in the UK.  Grated into this dish, it will be sublime!  Adding richness and depth to the dish.  However, other cacao and cocoas will be more than fine also.  I’m thinking about experimenting with a cacao gravy for Christmas dinner.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’ve streamlined the traditional recipe here big time, it’s normally quite involved and uses a whole cupboard of ingredients, spices and a whole gaggle of Mexican style chillies, which are totally awesome, but not always that easy to get hold of.  Chipotle paste is a decent go to, I made my own Chipotle en Adobo recently, which is well worth it if you’re a Mexican food fan or just mad about things chilli and smoky.

The best black beans yet! Straight from Mexico City.

The real inspiration for this dish was Helga, a good friend of my sis’s, Laura.  Helga is Mexican and sent these beans from Mexico City to be used especially for just such a dish.  I’d also like to thank the cooks of the B.H.K Vegan Cooking Group on Facebook, who voted for a savoury dish this week.  The delicious thing about this type of dark mole is that it skirts between sweet and savoury, with the addition of raisins here and a good amount of cocoa/ cacao.  I must admit, I was a bit surprised when the savoury vote came in, I was sure it would be sweet all the way!  I’d even got a recipe lined up and everything!!

Mole!!  Vegan!!!  Por favor

Recipe Notes

I’ve added grated golden beetroot, red cabbage and red pepper to the plate, for crunch and colour.  These kind of ingredients, along with carrots, cauliflower, savoy cabbage etc can all add the same crunch and colour to any dish.  Brightens things up no end!

I’ve added some simple tomato salsa to the dish and sliced avocado.  Lime, essential on, or in, most things Mexican and of course a god tickle of chilli!  I also like serving this dish with some warm tacos/ tortillas.

These beans and bacon make the most perfect leftovers, especially when wrapped up in a warm tortilla (I like the corn ones).  When I say tortilla, I mean the soft ones, not the big nacho style ones that look like napkin holders.

The black kale/ cavolo nero, adds great texture to the beans.  Savoy Cabbage or Spring Greens will also be delicious.

Chipotle paste?!  No probs.  Head down a supermarket and ask someone.  It’s there.

I used the crumble method of cooking the tofu bacon in the pics.  Both methods are really nice.

If you plan on keeping the mole, don’t stir in the lime juice until you are about to serve it.  Tastes amazing that way.

Lets MOLE!!!

(By the way, for those who are not too familiar with Mole, the e has a little dash over it, making it Mole as in Olé!  Not the same as the small, lovely creature that terrorises lawns.)

So…..lets MOLE!!!!

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Cashew & Kale Black Bean Mole with Smoky Bacon (Vegan)

The Bits – For 4

550g black beans (cooked)

2 big handfuls black kale/ cavolo nero (chopped into strips)

1 large onion (sliced)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

3 medium tomatoes (chopped)

2 tbs tomato puree

1 stick cinnamon

2 teas all spice

2 teas ground coriander

4 tbs raisins

2 tbs chipotles en adobo/ chipotle paste (how hot do you like it?!)

 

250ml water/ or bean cooking broth

2 tbs cocoa/ cacao

3-4 tbs cashew butter/ peanut butter

1-2 teas sea salt

1 lime (juice)

2 tbs cooking oil

Salt and pepper (for seasoning)

 

Garnish

2 handfuls coriander

1-2 chilli (finely sliced)

Vegan yoghurt/ sour cream/ creme fraiche

Lime wedges

 

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat, fry the onion for 12 minutes until caramelised and golden, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the cinnamon stick, all spice, chipotle sauce, coriander, raisins, tomatoes and tomato puree and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft, add the beans and water. Put a lid on it and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir in the cashew butter, kale and cacao, cook for a further 10 minutes. The beans should be breaking down and going a little creamy. Now stir in the lime juice, season with salt and a good amount of pepper and serve straight away.

Serving ideas – Ideal with a crumble of tofu bacon, sour cream/ yoghurt and coriander.  It makes a nice dip too. Take the cinnamon sticks out and pulse it s few times in a blender. Serve with nachos and guacamole.

 

Smoky Tofu Bacon

The Bits – Serves 6-8 as nibbles
450g firm tofu (cut into bite size pieces, cut thinly for sandwiches)

Marinade
3-4 teas smoked paprika (more if you like it really smokey!)
1/2 teas turmeric
1 1/2 teas maple syrup
1 teas nutritional yeast flakes
2 teas tamari/ soya sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs veg oil

 

Do It

Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate in a fridge for a couple of hours or overnight is good.

Preheat a fan oven to 200oC and place tofu onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Until nice and crisp.

Serve straight away but is also very nice served cold.

Use the leftover marinade to dip the tofu in or as a base for a dressing or even add to a stew/ soup to add a little flavour kick.

For the tofu bacon crumble – I mashed up the tofu, then marinated. Drained excess marinade and fried in a large frying pan on medium/ high heat with 2 tbs cooking oil until caramelised and crispy, roughly 8-10 minutes.

Vegan Black Bean Mole with all the gorgeous flavours of chocolate, chilli, spices and even cashew butter for extra richness.

Foodie Fact 

Black beans are one of the best sources of protein out there.  They are also one of the best sources of things called phytonutrients (basically, compounds in plants that do us loads of good).  They’re a good source of iron, copper and plenty of fibre.  They will help us to take care of our bones and heart, they even contain selenium, which is not found in many places in a plant-based diet.  Overall, they are a very healthy and super tasty star!

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I couldn’t write about Mexico without sending my love and best wishes to all effected by the recent earthquake in and around Mexico City.  If you’d like to help, here are details of an amazing charity, A Hand for Mexico, based in Mexico City and helping the people affected, as well as helping to re-build the city, focusing on shelters, schools and hospitals.

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Stew, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Vegan Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

2017-09-28 18.17.44

Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

This is an ideal, quick and easy, curry at this time of year, using seasonal squash (one of my favs) plus British grown fava beans from Hodmedods and all the beautiful flavours of Thailand in a creamy and rich coconut sauce.  It’s one of those dishes that most vegetables will love and mingle into, add whatever combos you love, I kept it simple here.

SQUASH SEASON

There are so many squashes around at this time of year, the one I used here was a Hokkaido Squash which is a great all-rounder for roasting, stew/ curries and grating or slicing into a salad.  Hokkaido is lovely and sweet with a brilliant orange colour and is normally quite small, making it ideal stuffing size.  You’ll also find loads of Acorns, Kabocha, Crown Prince (I love that one) and if you’re lucky, a Spaghetti Squash, which is well worth seeking out.  When roasted and fluffed with a fork, it forms a spaghetti like texture.

A lot of people I meet don’t like squash, strange as that may sound to some of you.  It’s normally down to the fact that pumpkin is so popular, the variety we carve strange faces into at Halloween (although we always used a giant swede – the vegetable that is).  That type of pumpkin is a little watery and lacking in flavour, not great eatin’, I’d recommend any of the winter squashes way ahead of old scary pumpkin head.

RECIPE INSPIRATION VIA BANGKOK SUBURB

This recipe is based on one of our favourite places to eat in Bangkok, Lemon Farm Organic Restaurant near, well, it’s kind of popped in the middle of a mass of sprawling Bangkok-ness (Chatuchak).  It’s an out of the way place if you’re a tourist, a mainly residential area where we had the pleasure of staying with the awesome Kessi for a few weeks.  There was really very little to do, so Jane and I did a lot of cooking (using only a rice cooker and kettle) and made a little home on the 13th floor of a tower overlooking the sprawling, buzzing city of Bangkok.

Down the market – Bangkok ’16

This dish is modelled on something cooked for us by the amazing Buppha, head chef/ manager at Lemon Farm, which was a sweet, rich and coconut-y lentil dish from her hometown of Phuket in the South.  I had never tried Thai lentils before and it really inspired me.  She made it with red lentils and always shared her recipes generously, but I was normally trying to write them down in a little notebook whilst holding a plate of food and being jostled by crowd of hungry Lemon Tree punters.  It got packed at office lunch time you see.  So I free styled this recipe and used the best of what was to hand, but the taste is similar, reminders of good times for sure.

THAI-STYLE (EAT!)

Phuket is a foodie centre, which can be said for all parts of Thailand I’ve found, and the dishes there are distinctly chilli-fied!  Pow!!    Buppha used to wake up at 4am with her team of chefs to prepare the days array of dishes and was very passionate about all things cooking, many of the recipes had been handed down to her by her mother/ grandmother.  The food was served buffet style, with a little noodle soup spot in the corner of an organic food shop.  It was cheap, very varied, plentiful and many dishes were vegan friendly, using some tofu and lots of interesting veggies.  Buppha just loved cooking with vegetables and they even had their own little vegetarian festival.  A week of vegetarian cooking that falls between September and October most years, most Thai’s go veggie at that time.  This years festival ended yesterday!

This one’s full of the flavours of Thailand!

VEGAN THAI TRAVEL

Thailand is of course a Buddhist country, but meat is very common in dishes, to the point that eating without planning in Bangkok and all over Thailand can be a challenge.  This is just one of those things, the veg markets in Thailand are some of my favourite in the world.  In fact the veg market in a little fishing town called Prachuap Kiri Khan is probably my favourite in the world (not to mention they have a vegan restaurant and a couple of vegetarian restaurants, plus an outdoor food market every night).   These veggies just don’t seem to surface on restaurant menus though, but this is a gripe of mine all over the world (one you’ve probably heard before).  It seems that most veggies are used in the home and meat is a ‘treat’ when people go out to eat.  Having said that, Thai’s seem to eat out all the time, everyday, such is the abundance of street eats to be found.  No country is like it, most streets have carts, wagons and tables vending all kinds of local delicacies.  It’s almost impossible to keep up with what is going on and taste bud overload can occur.

Prachuap Kiri Khan is a small town, on the coast south of Bangkok, but we managed to stumble upon a vegan festival there!

Thailand is not the easiest country to travel around as a vegan, especially when you get off the tourist trail.  English is not spoken generally and like I said, vegan options need to be sniffed out and the outrageous abundance of Thai street food is pretty much off the menu.  Still, when you do find vegan hot spots, like the tourist friendly Chang Mai or one of the main tourist islands like Koh Samui, you’ve hit Thai food heaven.  Thai food is very diverse, much more interesting than I imagined on my first visit.  I was ignorant to the geographical differences in ingredients and flavours, styles and approaches.  I should have known better really, as this is nothing new in the world of food, most countries have a similarly rich tapestry of dishes and produce as you wander around.  Nowadays, when I return, that first Green Curry or Pad Thai Noodles is always a very special moment.

There is such a buzz to eating in Bangkok, eating out really means that, outside, huddled over a table near a main road, or near one of the hundreds of canals (think watery thoroughfare).  Theres a bustle and energy to it all, loads of skill and panache in preparing and serving food and you can spend all night walking around, eating tiny delicious portions of things and just keep going until the early hours.  It’s one of the highest forms of grazing, snacking at its best, Thai style!

Big Thanks to Hodmedods!

Just for being awesome really!!  They have such an amazing array of British grown pulses and seeds, so many interesting things (to me), like Blue Peas, Carelina Seeds, Black Badger Peas, Fava Umami Paste, loads of ingredients that get me excited about cooking, trying new things.   If you’re interested, they even do a Big Vegan Box!

Hodmedods were kind enough to send us some of their pulses and bits to cook with at our recent retreats and I think their fava beans are a cut above.  Filled with amazing flavour, I love making Fave E Cicoria, a really simple Puglian bean dip.  Making it with Hodmedods beans makes a huge difference to the flavour.  The dish is simply made with cooked fava beans, garlic and a little olive oil.  Doesn’t sound like much admittedly, but with those beans, it’s dynamite!!  PS – Well done on winning the 2017 Best Food Producer at the BBC Food Awards.  To celebrate they’re offering 15% discount on orders.

Recipe Notes
You can use any lentils you like, red lentils will take considerably less time to cook. Green/ brown lentils, dark green/ puy lentils will all work nicely.  Mung beans are also very ace.

Not all coconut milk is equal.  Check the cans, we’re looking for plenty of coconut content, if it’s around 50%, its going to be quite weak.  Still nice, but not as creamy.  We’ve been talking about the differences between Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream over on Facebook in the BHK Vegan Cooking Group.  I like this dish really rich and really creamy.

Check that your Yellow Thai Curry Paste is vegan.  It normally is.  The Green and Red Thai Curry pastes in most UK shops are not vegan.

Shop bought Thai curry paste can be high in salt, this effects our seasoning.

I didn’t have any coriander or fresh chilli, but that would have been the perfect addition to the topping of this dish.

2017-09-28 18.16.47

Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

Quick Thai Yellow Curry with Squash & Fava Beans

The Bits – For 4

250g fava beans

900ml water

 

5-6 kaffir lime leaves

1.5 inches ginger (finely chopped)

4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

1-2 teas chilli flakes

½ head small savoy cabbage (sliced)

1 small hokkaido squash – 300g (peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks)

1 big handful desiccated coconut/ coconut flakes (toasted is nice)

1 can coconut milk

2 tbs coconut oil

4-5 tbs yellow curry paste (vegan)

1 tbs coconut/ brown sugar (optional sweetness)

Sea salt

 

Toppings (optional)

A little more desiccated coconut/ coconut flakes

1 red chilli (finely sliced)

1 handful coriander (fresh)

1/2 lime (cut into wedges/ slices)

The Bits

Do It
Wash and drain the fava beans. Cover with cold water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes, until soft. Add more hot water if needed.

While that’s going on, in a large frying pan, add the coconut oil, warm on medium high heat and add the onion and fry for 7 minutes until golden, then add the garlic and ginger, fry for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, chilli, desiccated coconut, lime leaves, squash and cabbage, bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the squash is soft. Stir in the yellow Thai paste, sugar and cooked fava beans (including cooking broth), warm through for a few minutes, adding a little hot water if needed.  Check seasoning.

Serve with warm rice, more toasted coconut, lime wedges and sliced red chillies if you like it hot.

*To add a Thai flavour to your rice, why not add a few lime leaves and a handful of coconut when you start cooking it.*

Foodie Fact

You all probably know that I love my beans!  But favas…..they’re almost a different league.  PACKED with flavour and so, so good for us.  Fava beans were dried and ground down to make bread traditionally in the UK, it was one of our major crops before we went wild for wheat and potatoes.  There is a rich history of fava/ broad bean growing in the UK, but growing up, they always seems a little exotic, something from the Middle East maybe, not the Midlands.

Fava/ Broad Beans are rich in shiny things like Vitamin K, Thaimin, zinc, potassium and loads of other minerals.  They are full of protein and have no saturated fat or cholesterol.  They also contain good amounts of iron and folate (one of the vitamin B bunch), plus loads of fibre.

Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Pappardelle with Artichoke & Almond Sauce plus Recipes for a Healthier & Happier Life

‘Pappardelle with Almond & Artichoke Sauce, Purple Kale & White Asaparagus’ – Original recipe from ‘Peace & Parsnips’

I’m cooking this tonight, a really attractive summery pasta dish.  I was reminded of it when it popped up on the Blue Zones website.  I cook dishes like this often, especially when I’m over in Spain, where the artichokes and almonds are just out of this world!!  Plus the lemons…..you cannot quite recreate the flavour of a lemon freshly picked from the tree which has enjoyed all that sparkling Med sunshine.  But let’s try!  If you cook this dish, wherever you are, half close you eyes and imagine that the bright sunshine is everywhere, the blue, blue ocean waves are crashing somewhere close by and there are trees filled with lemons just outside your window.  Ahhhhh.  That’s the right vibe for this one!

The Mediterranean diet is famous for being healthy, but its not just all the sea, sand and lemons.  A healthy lifestyle is a little more complex than that it seems.  I’m very interested in the idea that the way we live, not just the way we eat and drink, has a bearing on our health and wellbeing.  For me, diet is one of the foundations to a healthy and happy body and mind, but there is much more to consider and appreciate.

BLUE ZONES

Blue zones refer to the communities around the world who live for the longest.  There has been a lot of interest in the lifestyles of these people, why do they live so long?  It seems that being social, staying active and from what I can see, maintaining a connection with nature, leads to longevity.  There seems to be a strong sense of community in most of the ‘blue zones’ around the world, from Japan to Italy, and over to Costa Rica, people living more natural lives with good connections with each other, live longest.  Sounds like a recipe for a good life to me.

I’ve always like the Irish proverb, ‘a light heart lives long.’  I can’t see stress doing us any good in the long run.  When I see the people interviewed in these ‘Blue Zone’ cultures, they are generally chilled out.  Most of this is common sense to many of us, but its the putting it into practice that can be the hard part.  Takes a bit of discipline.

I’m always positive about change, our lifestyles will adapt depending on our priorities and convictions.  The option for a peaceful and content life is always there, it may be hard, may seem impossible, but with little shifts and changes to the way we approach life, the things we prioritise on a daily basis, big changes can come.  I know this, because it happened in my life.  I went from quite a stressed life managing restaurants in London to helping to build a little beach bar in Spain, then took the real plunge and went for a very long walk in the Himalayas.  My world view and perceptions changed considerably.

MINDFULNESS

A healthy approach is of course not just based around what we eat, but the way we think and feel.  I recently watched this little cartoon about mindfulness, which is an excellent technique for developing a more conscious and connected approach to life that has been effective for millions of people.  Mindfulness and meditation are two key practices that Jane and I use to maintain balance and harmony within ourselves and therefore within our relationship with each other and the world at large.

Mindfulness is like an anchor in a chaotic world, when our life seems to be out of control, it’s a safe place we can find empowerment and inspiration, peace and genuine relaxation.  After all, a short period of mindfulness and meditation can have the restorative and re-energising effects of many hours sleeping.  A relaxed mind is an effective mind and an effective mind allows us to navigate our way through life in an assured, calm and empowered manner.

I’d like to thank the Blue Zone site for sharing the recipe and reminding me about some of the aspects of my own lifestyle that were being neglected.  I’m off for a long walk and then, dinner!

Recipe Notes

Peace and Parsnips was released in the USA recently, so you’ll notice the US style weights and measures below.  The recipe contains a few ingredients, but is easy to put together and I like the artichoke and almond combo in the sauce, something a bit different.  I think this is perfect for a treat summer meal and the last recipe I posted, Simple Seared Mushrooms with Pea Puree & Crushed Minty Peas would make a very nice starter.  I love these kinds of dishes, simply prepared, just let the lovely produce at this time of year give their flavour and do the talking.

Have you tried salsify?  Its a delicious, if a little obscure, ingredient.  You can use salsify in this dish instead of the white asparagus, which is normally found jarred.  I first made this dish in Spain, where there is no shortage of white asparagus.  I like its subtle flavour and texture.

Pappardelle is one of my favourite pastas, great for a thick, creamy sauce that sticks to it nicely.  You can of course use tagliatelle or something similar.

 

The Bits

14 ounces (400g) purple kale, stalks removed, thickly chopped

8–10 white asparagus spears

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/3 cup (75ml) nice white wine (vegan)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

14 ounces (400g) pappardelle (or similar egg-free pasta)

a small handful of toasted almonds, finely chopped

a big handful of fresh parsley, chopped

a handful of watercress

 

Artichoke & Almond Sauce

5 tablespoons olive oil

a handful of almonds, soaked for 2 hours, skins removed if you have time

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

4 big handfuls of watercress leaves

14 ounces (390g) artichoke hearts

juice of ½ a lemon

 

Do It

For the Artichoke & Almond Sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the almonds.

Sauté for 1 minute, then add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.

Add the watercress leaves, cover the pan, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the contents of the frying pan in a food processor with the artichokes, lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and blend to a smooth purée. The sauce should be thick and shiny. Add water to thin it out if necessary.

 

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan on medium and add the asparagus. Panfry for 6–8 minutes, until nicely caramelized. Add a glug of white wine, and when the liquid has evaporated, season and cover. Leave to sit.

Bring a big pan of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta for roughly 8 minutes, until al dente. Add the kale halfway through the cooking time. Drain well, keeping aside a little of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta and kale to the artichoke sauce and toss together, adding some of the pasta water if it is looking a bit dry.

Spoon into warm shallow bowls and top with crisscrossed asparagus and a sprinkling of toasted almonds and parsley. Garnish with the watercress and season with sea salt and black pepper.

 

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Categories: cookbook, Dinner, healthy, Peace and Parsnips, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Summer Veg & Almond Cous Cous with Tahini Sauce

Summer Cous Cous with Tahini Sauce

Just landed back in the UK and am chuffed to be back in the kitchen playing with pots, pans and potatoes.  I love travelling but finding a good kitchen to cook in can be a challenge.  It’s probably the only thing I really miss.  I’ve been munching my way around the world for a while now and am ready to recreate a huge chunk of global tastiness this summer on the BHK.  I hadn’t had cous cous for an age and really enjoyed it recently in Beirut.  Although not exactly traditional Lebanese (more of that to come) I thought it would be a nice way to get the BHK recipes rolling again.

This is a quick, easy and delicious summer dish, I love these flavours; a little spice, apricots, crunchy almonds.  YUM!  Plus a creamy tahini sauce.  It takes no time at all to get together and when served with a salad or two, maybe even some warm flatbread, you’ve got a meal every one will enjoy.

So we’re just getting settled into the British vibe again, I must admit that it’s still quite a shock not waking up in India!  It was one of the hottest days of the year yesterday and I wore a big fleece and scarf.  I’ll get used to it!!  2017 has been an incredible year so far, Nepal, India, Lebanon and even a little taste of Ethiopia, but we can’t wait to tour around the UK for all the events, festivals and retreats we have planned.   Maybe see you there!!

We’ll be all over the place this year and have more plans in the oven.  As you know, the BHK has always been a nice little hobby for us, but in 2017 we plan on doing more than ever.  To keep up to date with stuff, check out our events page.  Jane is also working on our new newsletter and we are always posting things on the BHK FB page and I’m even tweeting.

If you get the chance to try this, or any of our recipes out, let us know in the comments.  We love to hear about your kitchen adventures.

 

Down on the beach, Dinas Dinlle, North Wales

Recipe Notes

All Spice is best used sparingly, if you don’t have any, go for a spice mix like garam masala or Ras El Hanout and use 1 teas more.

I really like millet and it makes a great sub for cous cous. It’s healthy and gluten free.

You might like to roast your almonds in an oven for 10 minutes to bring out the amazing flavours.

Summer Veg & Almond Cous Cous with Tahini Sauce

The Bits – Light lunch/ dinner for 4
1 large onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 pepper (all cut into small cubes)
1 small aubergine
1 small courgette
1 large tomato

1 tbs cumin seeds

1 1/2 tbs sesame seeds
1 teas all spice (or other spice mix)
2 tbs cooking oil
Salt + pepper

1 handful dried apricots (chopped)

1 big handful almonds (roughly sliced)

1 handful parsley (chopped)

Cous cous (150g is good for 4)

Tahini Sauce
5 tbs light tahini
1/2 lemon (juice)
1 small clove garlic (crushed)
Salt (to taste)
Water

Do It
In a large frying pan on medium high heat, warm the oil and add the cumin and sesame seeds. Stir and fry for 1/2 minute and then add the onions and cook for a few minutes.  Now add salt, pepper, all spice, aubergine, courgette and peppers. Gently stir and fry for 5-7 minutes, until all is soft. Add the tomatoes and apricots, take off the heat and pop a lid on. Set aside. The tomatoes will be just soft and not overcooked.

Cook your cous cous, follow the pack instructions. Using veg stock adds more flavour and a few twists of black pepper is nice.

In a bowl, mix the tahini sauce bits together with a fork, adding water gradually until you have a thin sauce.

Serve warm or cold. Arrange the cous cous on a large plate, pile the veg in the middle and top with parsley and almonds. Drizzle with tahini sauce as you like.

We’re sharing our time between beautiful Wales and Durham this year.

Foodie Fact

Almonds are packed with healthy fats and minerals, it’s been shown that nuts can actually help you lose weight.  We eat the sweet almonds, but bitter almonds are used to flavour things like amaretto and almond extract.

Many people I speak to don’t realise what a good source of antioxidants nuts are and are put off because of high fat contents.  The fat’s in most nuts are healthy and they come with so many more benefits.  Plus, they taste incredible.

Lovely walk in Durham yesterday along the river Wear, seems a long way from the Ganges!!

 

 

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower Hearts with Hazelnuts and Creamy Asparagus Sauce

I know this may sound complicated, but it ain’t!  A light and simple summer time lunch which is a bit of a looker and won’t have you hanging out in the kitchen or shops for too long. The method is so easy and there are only a handful of ingredients. You want to be outside right, dancing in the sunshine, listening to reggae!!!

This is what you could call a restaurant style dish, I served it recently to some friends and it’s that kind of Saturday night dinner party plate. Dishes like this look much more complicated than they actually are, I think that makes for a good restaurant dish. Making our lives easier in the kitchen doesn’t mean the quality and presentation of food has to suffer. The contrary is generally true. The more chilled and effortless we are in the kitchen, the better the end product. Thats how it works in the BHK anyway!

KING CAULI
Cauliflower is so versatile and its finely getting some real kudos in the ‘foodie’ world. Long overdue! I actually endured the glorious cauliflowers former incarnation recently, that drab and vacuous, steamed way beyond death thing, that graces serving dishes in function rooms across Britain. It was at a wedding. Any flavour that the poor florets had were mercilessly boiled out. What a shame, I only hope they used the stock.

Cauli makes our sauce here super creamy, it actually contains pectin, like apples, which helps to thicken things up nicely. I use cauliflower in soups and stews when looking for a touch of silky creaminess. I’ve even used cauliflower in a chocolate torte which was actually really nice. It was for my Mum’s 60th birthday cake, which was admittedly, a bit of a risk. But no one could have guessed, primarily because I didn’t tell them about the secret ingredient until after they’d eaten at least two slices and showered compliments on the richness of the torte etc. Then I went in, a bit smug. No one was that surprised. They know what I’m like.

Of course, we’re all crazy for roasted cauliflower at the minute and bar maybe potatoes, few veggies can match cauli when it is nicely caramelised and a bit charred around the edges. Yumah!

A plate fit to grace a party

A plate fit to grace a party

Recipe Notes
You’ll probably have a little too much sauce from this recipe. You can thin it down with vegetable stock to make a lovely soup.

If your hazelnuts are not toasted, just pop them on a baking tray and into the oven for 10 minutes. Keep your eye on them.

You can easily cook the cauliflower on a bbq if you prefer. Cauliflower is perfect for all kinds of bbq style behaviour.

Asparagus can be substituted for a number of veggies in this dish. What ever is looking good and seasonal, I’m thinking peas, broad beans, kale, even peppers or squash. Cauliflower is fairly neutral and takes well to many other veggie flavours.

I served this with pan fried mushrooms and spinach with roasted potatoes. Unless you are looking for a light meal, I’d advised some of your favourite, complementarty sides.

The BitsFor 4
1.25 kg cauliflower (a big one)
600g asparagus spears
3 cloves garlic
500ml soya milk (unsweetened)
1 big handful toasted hazelnuts (finely chopped)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Do It
Preheat an oven to 225oC.

Cut off the asparagus tips (first three-five inches), then chop the stems until you get to the woody bit. Try some, if it’s fibrous, you’ve gone too far.

Trim the leaves off the cauliflower by slicing off the majority of the base stem. Then cut into 3/4 inch slices straight across, use a long knife. Now cut off the ‘hearts’ of cauliflower, basically nicely shaped florets. The more broken, smaller pieces of cauliflower, add to a saucepan for the sauce. This should be roughly 1/2 the cauliflower. Use any leftover pieces of stem for the sauce.

Drizzle some oil onto a large oven tray, add the cauliflower hearts and season with salt and pepper. Toss a little so they are covered with oil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Until they are well caramelised, I’m talking dark brown colours and charred bits here.

Add the soya milk and garlic to the cauliflower in the saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is just breaking down. Add the asaparagus and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes more then leave to cool. You can do this in advance, preferably before the cauliflower is roasting in the oven. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz the sauce until nice and smooth.

Just before serving, grab a frying pan, add a dash of oil and on a high heat, cook the asparagus tips. Fry for 5 minutes, until they caramelise and then season with a touch of salt and pepper.

Serve on big warm plates, add a few spoons of sauce to the centre, use a spoon to form a circle/ square (depending on the shape of your plate), form a row of asparagus tips along the centre, with four large cauliflower florets either side. Finish with a good scattering of hazelnuts. Or anyway you fancy.

This kind of dish demands a nice glass of chilled white wine (with or without bubbles).

Enjoy!!!!!

Enjoy!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Chickpea, Date and Potato Tagine

Tagine is a great summer time staple, a light stew with lovely spice and hints of sweetness from the dates. The perfect place for brilliant seasonal vegetables, a straightforward and ideal addition to your mid week special board!

In Morocco, tagines are a showcase for the amazing local produce. The stock base is just the cooking juices of the vegetables and a little salt, no added stock needed. You know how good your veggies are, its a good test actually. If this tagine is tasteless, its all down to the produce (add a little veg stock).

I went to Morocco straight from Mexico and I remember being hungry quite a lot. I was travelling on hope and pennies and there was certainly not the range of cheap street eats that you find everywhere in Mexico. It was a bit of a shock to the system. When I found a place that did cook veggie food, normally cous cous or tagine, it was a real find. There was normally then a wait while the cook/ owner went out to but the vegetables and cook the tagine. I travelled in mostly rural areas and this could mean a long wait for dinner/ lunch. Still mint tea always flowed easy and the pace of life in Morocco suits me down to the ground. Life ebbs by nice and easy.

Happy hobs:)

Happy hobs:)

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a proper tagine (the cooking vessel). That’s fine, we can still call it a tagine (just don’t tell your Moroccan mates!) As you’d imagine, we do have a tagine dish. It is normally used as a fruit bowl and I’m always looking for an excuse to use it. A tagine is actually a brilliant shape and design to cook vegetables and cous cous to perfection. You need very little water as the heavy lid keeps in most of the water, it acts as something like a pressure cooker. I find this especially helpful when cooking cous cous.

I like a good mix of veggies in my tagines and potatoes are very important base to other more glamorous (you know what I mean) veg like aubergine, peppers etc. The potatoes have the added benefit of making the tagine sauce thick when they begin to break down.

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

The flavour or Morocco (in a little jar), just add amazing veggies

I always bang on about fresh spice, but it makes a huge difference. Many spices have been lurking around our cupboards for a while and may be past their sensational best. Ras El Hanout is the traditional spice mix used, but you know what, other spice mixes can be added to make a tasty stew. Think garam masala, curry mixes, berbere, jerk style mixes. The basic technique will be the same, just experiment with the spice quantity.

I’ve been cooking all over the UK in the past month, it seems like a different kitchen every night! I love it!! I’ve found most people have really good kitchens and its interesting to try out different ovens and cook with a range of pots, pans and utensils. Most people have some amazing kit, much better than the stuff I’ve got!!!  This tagine was made in Durham a few days ago, my Dad who you probably know by now was like me, a real, full power, carnivore and is now going through a real shift. He’s making his own twelve veggie stew at home. I knew Dad would dig this and he says he’ll be trying it out again soon. It’s always wicked when your loved ones enjoy what you make.

Not Durham!  Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Not Durham! Sunset from the terrace last night in Spain

Recipe Notes

Tagines are normally chunky. Cut all the veggies into roughly 1 1/2 inch chunks.

As a variation, you can substitute the dates with dried apricots and use whatever vegetables are good and seasonal, easy to get hold of.

My friend Abdul, who lives in a cave near the Sahara, swears by a nice glug of olive oil when serving a tagine. It adds extra richness and gives the sauce a shimmer.

To make things extra special, adding a few handfuls of greens just before you serve the tagine would be nice. Something like spinach, kale or chard. Spring greens are awesome, just add then about five minutes before serving, they take a bit more cooking.

Do not use a metal spoon or spatula to stir stews, unless you want the vegetables to break down. A trusty wooden spoon is perfect.

We cooked quinoa to serve the tagine with, instead of the traditional cous cous. Gluten free and delicious, its also packed with massive amounts of goodness/ nutrition.

2016-04-28 19.00.21

Simple summer special!

The Bits – For 6-8

2 tbs cooking oil
1 onion (peeled and sliced)
2 inches fresh ginger (peeled and finely sliced)
½ medium butternut squash (peeled and chopped)

4 small potatoes (chopped)

2 bell peppers (deseeded and chopped)

1 aubergine (chopped)

4 large tomatoes (chopped)

250g/1 tin chickpeas
16 dates (de-stoned and cut in half)
4 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs ras el hanout spice mix
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
400ml hot water
Salt (to taste)

Serving
A little good olive oil, fresh coriander and extra spice

Do It

This is an easy one…….

In a large frying pan or saucepan on medium heat, add the oil and fry the onions and ginger for five minutes until soft, then add the other vegetables, cinnamon, spices and some salt. Stir and fry for two minutes then add the tomatoes, dates, tomato puree and water.

Stir gently and pop on a loose fitting lid and cook on a steady simmer for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just breaking down. Season with a little more salt to taste.

Serve with cous cous, topped with a drizzled of olive oil, fresh coriander and a sprinkle of extra spices.

Nice with some greens!  (Isn't everything;)

Nice with some greens! (Isn’t everything;)

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, photography, Recipes, Stew, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

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Baked Mushrooms with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Walnuts

Just such and easy and flavoursome number!  The kind of dish you could serve as a main course or starter  at a dinner party (aka when you’re trying to look a bit flash in the kitchen) and really not go to any great trouble.

One of the main reasons for me popping this recipe on the BHK is the wonderful Vegan Recipe Hour, happening soon over on Twitter.  A great place for vegan cooking inspiration and tonight the theme is……well……MUSHROOMS!

They look lovely and pack some intense flavours; mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted nuts, pesto, these are some of the bedrocks of richness and savoury flavours in a vegan cooks locker.  Combined……POW!  I’d also like to mention that this is most definitely healthy.

UMAMI!

One of the five basic tastes and a word that sounds like something Vic and Bob would exclaim (with loads of reverb) mid ‘Shooting Stars’.  If you are not British, this may take some explaining…..this clip might help.

Umami is a savoury taste in things like mushrooms, nuts, fermented foods like miso and tamari, yeast extract, seaweed and sun dried tomatoes, they’re packed with that mysterious and delicious flavour that acts like catnip to our tastebuds.  We know we love it!

The history of umami can be found here and it is of course the source of MSG.  Its natures MSG, which means all the crazy good flavour without the unpleasant side effects.  Many rich and flavourful plant based meals use something umami as a base.

BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Some of you may know that I cook at a glorious retreat centre in Snowdonia, Trigonos.  (Queue a quick plug for the retreat and workshop I’m running soon –  ‘Discovering Vegan Cooking’).  I have started to make these mushrooms for lunch there and they always go down a treat.  Greater than the sum of their preparation skills and time.  The sign of a winning restaurant dish, especially when you’re working in the kitchen!  This is a dish I choose when I’m giving myself a bit of a break.  Normally, if you eat at Trigonos, you’ll be joining me on a voyage into vegan cooking.  I have a rough idea what I’ll be cooking but I generally see what is good from the land that day (we have our own organic farm) and what’s looking great from out veg supplier.  Then I play with food and enjoy myself.  One of the most wonderful occupations imaginable.

Now.  Lets make something delicious.

Recipe Notes

The mushrooms will shrink quite a bit during cooking.  Make sure you get big ones, or double up per person.  I have found that most folk like a second mushroom after they’ve tasted the first.

Portobellos are full of flavour and texture but field mushrooms are also fine (and a little cheaper).

I always try to make my own pesto, but at this time of year, fresh leafy herbs are not exactly sprouting from the earth.  You could use a good jar of vegan pesto, you’ll find this in most supermarkets and especially health food shops or similar.

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A typical Trigonos lunch plate, plenty of colours!

The Bits – For 4

4 large mushrooms (peeled and the end of stalks trimmed off)

Pesto

2 big handfuls sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped)

2 big handfuls basil leaves

1/2 lemon (zest)

3 large cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 handful cashews (best when soaked in warm water for an hour before)

50ml+ olive oil

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea Salt (to taste)

OR

10-12 tbs green pesto (of your choice)

Mixing in the sun dried tomatoes and lemon (zest) – same quantities as above

 

2 handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

 

Topping

Fresh green herbs – parsley, thyme, basil

P1270079

Fresh out of the oven

Do It

Preheat an oven 180oc.

Peel the mushrooms, lightly oil a baking tray, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper.  Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes.  They should be soft but still nice and succulent.

Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor (except the olive oil) and pulse until a chunky pesto is formed whilst drizzling in the oil.  Or, just mix the tomatoes and lemon zest into your shop bought pesto.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Adding more nooch (nutritional yeast flakes) will up the cheesiness. A good thing.

Spoon roughly 2-3 tbs of the pesto over each mushroom and sprinkle with walnuts.  Pop back into the oven for 10 minutes to warm them through.  Thats it!

Sprinkle over some herbs and serve soon after.

Here are some dishes I’ve served recently to accompany these mushrooms:

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Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook Competition Winners & Happy Birthday Beach House Kitchen!!!

What a way to celebrate a birthday!  So many amazing recipes have hit our blog inbox over the past couple of weeks. Our minds are boggled now by sheer deliciousness…..!  Its been so hard to pick winners so we’ve changed the rules a little, we’re giving away two more books!!  You are all winners really and we will be cooking as many of your amazing recipes as possible.

Here are the lucky three who will be getting a copy of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ very soon (plus two we just had to include for being extra amazing…..):

Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Winner!  Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream by Katharina

Little Plate – Cucumber Rolls with Harissa Cream
Katharina loves drawing, eating and cooking….sometimes all at the same time!!!  Instead of a taking a photo, Katharina sent in a painting.  We thing its wonderful!  Anybody this talented with a paintbrush is bound to be a hit in the kitchen!  We think these will look incredible, rolled into a beautiful rose and stuffed with a harissa cashew cream.  Woah!  The kick of the Harissa makes Katarina happy and we are sure this dish is going to make us smile.  This cream will also go well on bread, with salads or dip a falafel in.  YUM!
You need
1 cup cashews, soaked
3 tbs nooch, aka the nutritional yeast:)
2 tbs olive oil, extra virgin of course
3 tbs water or some more if needed
3 ts smoky paprika
1 ts jeera/ cumin
1 ts caraway seeds
1 ts coriander seeds
1 ts salt (Himalayan Rose)
to serve
1 long cucumber
iceberg salad or frillice
Blend cashews with water and  nutritional yeast and grind the spices in a pestle and mortar.  Add the spice mix to the cashew cream and give it a short final blend.
Slice cucumber lengthways with vegetable peeler into thin long strips. Spread the cream onto the strips and roll them into roses.

 

Big Plate Winner! Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Winner! Big Plate Winner – Greek Butter Bean Pie by Laura

Big Plate – Greek Butter Bean Pie
We love the cooking style of the Med so much and Laura is such a talented cook and blogger.
“A hearty baked version of a Greek meze classic. This Butter Bean Pie is simple to make, full of delicious savoury flavour and packed with wholesome ingredients.”
You’ll find more delicious recipes like this on Laura’s blog ‘The Whole Ingredient’.
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 200g dried butter beans, soaked overnight (or 3 tins of pre-cooked butter beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 30g fresh dill
  • 200g fresh spinach
Method
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. If you haven’t already pre-cooked the butter beans, put them on to boil in a large pan of water. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes – about the same time it takes to prepare the sauce.
  3. While the beans are cooking, make the sauce. Chop the onion, carrot and celery small, all to a similar size.
  4. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and add these to the pan.
  5. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Slice the garlic and add this to the pan, giving it all a good stir.
  6. Now stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Chop the dill (discarding any thick or tough stalks) and stir this in too.
  7. Leave the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. While this is cooking, wilt the spinach in a separate pan until there is no water remaining from the leaves.
  9. You can now assemble the pie. Line the bottom of an oven dish or pie tin with the spinach. Drain the butter beans and stir these into the tomato sauce. Gently pour this over the spinach and level it out. Sprinkle on the rest of the oregano and olive oil.
  10. Cook on a middle shelf for 30 minutes.
Coconut Scones by Janice

Winner! Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones by Janice

Sweet Treat – Coconut Scones

Janice says: “The most delicious scones ever!” These are low in sugar but sweetened with the super healthy coconut.  A ingredient Janice and ourselves can’t get enough of. Janice recommends cutting these scones thick, as they should be (otherwise they’re biscuits) and enjoying them straight from the oven with plenty of coconut oil and home chia seed jam!  Sounds truly amazeballs!!!

Find plant-based delights and natural health magic over at Janice’s blog ‘Nourished by Nature’.

Ingredients

8oz/225g self raising flour, preferably organic

2 level teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ oz/40g caster sugar

4 oz /110g soya or sunflower spread

2 oz/55g desiccated coconut

3 or 4 tablespoons plant based milk

Method

1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/ Gas 7 and lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. The easiest way to make these scones is to add all the dry ingredients to
a food processor and pulse for a few minutes, then add the milk a little at
a time until the mixture comes together,

3. If you don’t have a food processor then put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Using your fingertips rub the spread into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Vegan spreads are really soft so run your hands under a cold tap before you start and work quickly to keep the mixture from clumping.

4. Stir in the sugar and coconut then add the milk gradually and mix with a
wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.

5. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a round ¾ inch or 2 cm thick.

6. Cut out 10 scones, I use a heart shaped cookie cutter since I reckon
we could all do with more love in our lives!

7. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and liberally sprinkle coconut on
the top.

8. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until well risen and nicely browned

EXTRA AMAZING SPECIAL MENTIONS:
Copies of ‘Peace & Parsnips’ will also be heading to Victoria and Amy who both sent in three course vegan banquets to make even the most hardy meat-eater drool!  Delicious!!  We’ve included a picture of some of the dishes below:
Stuffed Peppers

A couple of Victoria’s beautiful dishes. Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice.  We love cauliflower rice and everything tastes amazing when stuffed in a pepper;)

 

Baked Apples -

Stuffed Baked Apples with Cashew Vanilla Cream by Victoria.  Love the blackberries in this and the cashew cream sounds delicious!!!

Amy is 17!  What a rock n roll star!!!!  Amy is studying cooking at college and is interested and passionate about cooking all foods.  Amy loved trying out vegan food and it shows.  We especially like Amy’s specially printed menu.  Vegan<3

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!

Amy cooked up a wonderful three course feast!  Can’t wait to try the chocolate brownie recipe and curries are always welcome in the BHK.

 

We loved Amy's specially printed menu. So cool:)

We loved Amy’s specially printed menu. So cool:)

We’d also like send big thanks to (recipes that we loved and will be cooking soon):

Sharon’s – Seaside Pasta with Samphire
Rebecca’s – Parsnip and Chickpea Loaf with Lemon and Thyme AKA Not Roast and Chocolate Tiffin
Cora’s – Unbaked Banana Bread Balls
V’s – Spiced Coconutty Butternut Squash Soup
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part, we loved reading your emails and recipes, the response has really touched us.  You’ve made our 4th birthday party extra special.  Its been a real celebration of home cooked happiness!
Happy Cooking,
Lee & JaneX
Categories: competition, Desserts, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fancy a healthy start to 2016? Peace & Parsnips Recipes featured by Veganuary

Big thanks to the wonderful folk at Veganuary for featuring recipes from Peace & Parsnips.  Are you taking part in Veganuary?  How’s it all going?  I’m sure you’re shining away and if you need a little tasty inspiration, check out the feast below!

You’ll find these recipes and many, many more in the ‘recipes’ section of the awesome Veganuary website.

timthumb (3)Chocolate & Maple Ice Cream

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Lazy Lahmacun

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Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

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Raw Apple and Date Pie

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Charred Fig and Rocket Salad with Lemon Tofu Feta

I’m busy in the kitchen at the minute and finding little time to blog.  Soz about that.  I also just completed my taxes for the year which was a very painful experience.  Why so many numbers and brackets?  I needed some light relief, I needed some bloggin time with you lovely lot!!!

Check out our facebook and twitter pages for more BHK shenanigans.

I’m off to check on my onions……….X

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fennel & Spinach Pesto

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomato, Fennel and Spinach Pesto

Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi with Sun-dried Tomato, Fennel and Spinach Pesto

Veganz! Omnivores! Traffic Wardens! Rock Stars! Mamas! Papas! Botanists! Kayakers!……..You’re all going to like this one.

January is here and most of us feel quite droopy.  Over fed and watered, back to work but filled with good intentions for the new year.  Over 15,000 people world wide are trying out a vegan lifestyle in January thanks to the awesome Veganuary (see below).  This year we’re all going to be healthy superheroes!  Environmental angels!  Animal lovers extraordinaire!  Just by changing our eating and consuming habits.   Its such a shining, peaceful, positive way to get 2016 off to a flying start.

Here’s a healthy recipe straight out of Peace & Parsnips.  Loads of people have been in touch and said that this has been one of their favourites.  A colourful twist on your traditional gnocchi. This is a light dish packed with texture, a rich pesto, bucket loads of nutrition and plenty of big flavours.

Colourful food always gets us happy and hungry and this is a proper rainbow plate; orange, red, green, red……YUM!  It’s an ideal dish for a special dinner, a Saturday night feast or mid-week indulgence.  If you are cooking for people who think vegan/ healthy/ vegetables/(fill in the blank….) is boring and bland, here’s something to dispel such misguided waffle.

I’m sure this recipe will help all those going fully vegan for this Veganuary.  It’s not all veggie burger, tofu and falafels after all.  One friend said to me recently, a little apprehensively; “But is being vegan any fun?”, I replied “How much fun is Halloumi???!?”  (We  were talking about giving up Halloumi at the time).  How much fun is cheese?  There is no connection between happiness and dairy products.  Trust me.

Go vegan for January (what's left of it;)

Go vegan for January (what’s left of it;)

Veganuary is a global campaign that gets people into a vegan lifestyle in January.  Being a vegan is big news in 2016 and there has been plenty of interest in the press.  There are thousands of people giving veganism a try; my Mum and sister are giving it a go and Jane is giving up her Kefir and occasional Cappuccino for the month.  I also have a load of friends who are getting into the plant-based party.  Its amazing!  Jack Monroe is posting vegan recipes over on ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’ and other celebrities like Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Pascoe and Romesh Ranganathan are taking part.  In 2015, 49% of the folk who tried out Veganuary stayed vegan full-time.  The Veganuary site is packed with information, advice, recipes and inspiration.  In fact, you’ll find a load of recipes from Peace & Parsnips over there.  Of course, you could also have a wee look at our back catalogue for a massive slice of vegan treats.

Being vegan is becoming ever more accessible, there are an infinite number of ways to eat simply delicious, plant-based food.  Many more restaurants, supermarkets and suppliers are realising that being vegan is far from a fad.  Interest in veganism has grown hugely worldwide in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016.

Let’s cook plants!  Here’s what I said in the book:

Making gnocchi with coloured vegetables makes brilliant sense. Any quite starchy root works well: parsnip, sweet potato, purple potatoes, cassava, pumpkin . . . But the vivid orange of squash really electrifies the plate (and the palate). With its vibrant oranges, reds and greens, this dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the belly!

The Bits

1 large squash, about 1.5kg (the more starchy varieties of summer squash are best, such as butternut) peeled and cut into rough chunks olive oil, for roasting

a little sea salt

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthways

240g firm tofu, well drained

300g unbleached white flour, sifted

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

1½ teaspoons dried sage

2 big handfuls of sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

 

For the topping
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Spinach Pistou

100g hazelnuts

100g spinach or watercress leaves

2 big handfuls fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1/2 lemon

Large pinch of sea salt

2 large pinches of black pepper

75ml extra virgin olive oil

 

Do It – For 4-6

First make the spinach pistou (even better if you can make it the day before). Pistou is a Provencal version of Pesto – much lighter, without the cheese and pine nuts.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Place the squash on an oiled baking tray. Rub a little oil and salt over it and bake for 30 minutes, turning the pieces gently over once. You’re not looking for loads of colour here, just lovely soft, golden squash.

Toss the fennel in olive oil, place on a separate baking tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once, until it’s nicely golden and sweet. When the squash is ready, put it into a processor with the tofu and blend until smooth. Now, place in a large bowl and stir in the flour, salt, pepper and sage until a soft dough forms. Leave to cool down and firm up – it will be a lot easier to handle.

Using two teaspoons, make gnocchi shapes (lovely little flat oval dumplings) with the mixture and place on an oiled baking sheet, leaving about 5cm of space for each gnocchi to grow. Brush the gnocchi with a little more oil and bake for 20–25 minutes, until crisp and slightly golden.

For the Spinach Pistou – Place the hazelnuts in a small skillet and warm on medium heat.  Keep them moving for 5-7 minutes – they will become roasted and smell so very sweet! Put them into a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds.  The nuts should begin to break down into lumps and chunks, which is what we want.  Add the rest of the pistou ingredients (except the oil) and blitz, drizzling the oil in gradually until you get a nice runny texture, like a think sauce.  You will need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times.  Add more oil if the pistou needs thinning.  Check your seasoning and set aside.

Serve

Warm, on nice big plates, drizzled liberally with the pistou. Scatter the crispy fennel and sun-dried tomatoes on top with a little more pistou, and finish with some chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Foodie Fact

Winter squashes like pumpkin and butternut squash are directly related to summer squashes like courgette and even watermelon (they’re known as the gourd family).  You can use most winter squashes in this recipe, as long as they are not too watery; acorn or hokkaido will be delicious.

Butternut squash is almost 30% protein and contains outrageous levels of vitamin A which makes our skin shine.  They’re also high in vitamin C and boast a good range of minerals like iron and calcium.

All of the parts of a squash plant are edible; fruit, flowers, leaves and seeds.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Maple Roasted Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with Cashew Cream Sauce (Traditional Vegan Christmas Fare)

Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with some tasty trimmings

Parsnip, Walnut & Mushroom Roulade with some tasty trimmings

A simple, vegan feast to satisfy all this Christmas!

Here is a old school dish that I came up with last night, ideal for a Christmas day centre piece and only using two pans and a baking tray! I’ve also included quick recipes for the cooking veggie accompaniments – Chicory braised in sloe gin and pan fried Brussels Sprouts with Curly Kale and the creamy sauce is something everyone will enjoy.  You are sorted for Xmas 2015!

I’ve had quite a few requests for a Christmas recipe that is both straightforward and seasonal.  Being the BHK, we don’t plan things, we just let them leap out of the veg basket and we had to go parsnip this year.  It has been ‘the year of the parsnip’ for us in many ways!

All of these ingredients most of us have around the kitchen at this time of year.  I love the way that we can create feasts from simple plant-based ingredients, packed with bold flavours and interesting textures.  We are spending Christmas this year with Jane’s parents and I think they’ll love this dish, a taste of more traditional British fare.

A vegan Christmas is a delight!  I find that I cook lighter and more nourishing dishes than previous Christmas times.  Xmas can be so packed with heavy, rich food and I can’t help feeling lucky to be stuffing myself with food that is delicious and won’t leave me in a food coma, snoring by the fire place.  If I could tone down the red wine glugging, Christmas would be a highly healthy time of year!  Jane and I will be making a whole host of vegan dishes on the big day and all across the festive season, the perfect time of year to let plants shine and inspire.

I like this recipe because it is fun for all the family, no matter what the tastes.  The pastry is something everyone can get down with, crispy, flaky and then the filling is packed with flavour finished with a very creamy, slightly cheesy plant-based sauce that will be a surprise to some.  Cashews are superheroes for plant-based creaminess.

This recipe suits is you are catering for a vegan/s over Christmas.  It can be made in advance and warmed up in the oven on the day or you can prepare the filling ingredients and roll the roulade in the morning.  I have to say that freshly baked it is tastier and the pastry has a better texture.

A festive feast!

A festive feast!

Recipe Notes

This roulade will be lovely with any veggies, but we’ve paired it with a few of our extra special favourites; chicory, kale and Brussels Sprouts.  A few roast potatoes are never a bad idea!   We also love red cabbage however it arises.

If you don’t have any nutritional yeast flakes the sauce will not be cheesy.  Now may be a good time to invest in a pot of these wonderful, savoury flakes.  Especially if you are planning on cooking vegan food regularly.  Otherwise stir in some Dijon mustard or herbs.  It will be delicious.

Cashew butter can easily be substituted by blending up cashew nuts, seasoning with salt.  Soak two handfuls of cashews for 2 hours in plenty of water and then blend.  They will form a smooth paste, perfect for adding to sauces and stews.

If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, that’s cool, lets go for roughly 3/4 teas dried rosemary and 1 1/2 teas dried thyme.  You can always taste the leeks after cooking and add more herbs if you like.

This is the easiest method of rolling a roulade, you can go for a more traditional roulade roll if you are happy with that.  This method is failsafe.

Many brands of puff pastry are vegan, have a quick check of the ingredients.

Chicory is generally quite bitter but when cooked with a sweet liqueur or even a fruit vinegar, will have delicious sweet and sour flavour.

Christmas is not complete without delicious Brussels Sprouts.  Simply pan fried in a little oil, with sea salt is my favourite way to enjoy them.

Happy cooking and Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

 

The Bits – Makes 12 slices (enough for 4-6) 

325g/ 2 medium-sized parsnips (chopped into 1 1/2 cm wide batons – the longer the better)

2 big handfuls walnuts (roughly chopped)

3 teas maple syrup

1 1/2 teas lemon (zest)

1 head garlic (whole)

 

300g/ 2 medium leeks (cleaned and finely sliced)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely sliced)

3 teas thyme leaves (picked from stems)

 

250g mushrooms (finely diced)

Black pepper and sea salt

 

2/3 500g vegan puff pastry block (roughly 350g)

3 tbs soya milk

Flour (for dusting)

 

Cashew Cream Sauce

100g/ 1 small leek (cleaned and finely sliced)

400ml soya milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)

4 tbs cashew butter

2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes

Sea salt (to taste)

Lovely maple roasted parsnips and walnuts

Lovely maple roasted parsnips and walnuts

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oc (180oc fan oven).

Place the parsnips and head of garlic on a baking tray, toss with a 2 tbs of oil and a large pinch of salt.  Roast for 15 mins then gently turn over the parsnips, scatter the walnuts around the tray and drizzle all with maple syrup.  Roast for 7 minutes, turn and check that they are not burning.  Roast for 3 minutes more until the parsnips are totally. beautifully golden.  The walnuts will also be nicely caramelised.  Little explosions of flavour for the roulade!  Scatter over the lemon zest and set aside.

While the parsnips are roasting, grab a large frying pan.  Add 1 tbs oil and fry your leeks for 5- 7 minutes.  When they are soft, stir in the herbs.  Set aside.  Rinse out the pan.

Now add another 1 tbs of oil to the pan and fry your mushrooms for 8 minutes on a medium heat until most of their moisture has been released.  Mix with your leeks, season with salt and pepper, set aside.

Cut a piece of baking parchment/ greaseproof paper out that will snugly fit in a baking tray.  Place on a cool work surface and lightly dust with flour, using a rolling pin, begin to roll out your pastry.  Dusting regularly as you roll, it will help to turn the pastry over a few times while you are rolling.  You’re looking for a rectangular shape around 14″ by 10″, nice and even.  When your happy with the size, trim the edges of with a sharp knife.

Your filling ingredients should now be cool, if not leave them for a while.  Begin to fill your roulade, leeks first.  See the photo below.   Now top with a layer of walnuts,  pressing down lightly.  Top with your parsnips.  Using the baking parchment, roll your roulade.   Lightly brush all of the edges, a 2cm border all around, with soya milk.  Pull the top edge of the paper towards you, packing any filling back in as you go.  Now spin the roulade around and pull the other side of the pastry up and over so the pastry overlaps slightly.  Press gently and using the paper again, flip the roulade over so that the fold is on the bottom.  Using your hands, shape the roulade into a neat, fat sausage shape.  Now press and tuck in your ends, making sure they are well sealed.  All of this is best explained by the photos below:

Spread out the leek layer and top with walnuts, pressing down gently.

Spread out the leek layer and top with walnuts, pressing down gently

Top with the roasted parsnips

Top with the roasted parsnips

Using the baking paper, roll one edge over.....

Using the baking paper, roll one edge over…..

Rolled up like a big, fat......sausage.

Rolled up like a big, fat……sausage

Cut slices, which help to act as a portioning guide and brush with soya milk

Cut slices, which help to act as a portioning guide and brush with soya milk

Cut slices into the top of the roulade and brush with soya milk.  Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, turning once to get a nice even bake.

Sauce time.  Simple.  Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and warm until a low simmer, stirring regularly.  Pop a lid on, turn the heat down and leave to slowly cook through for 10 -12 minutes.  Once the leeks are soft, stir in the yeast flakes and blend with a stick blender, adding salt as needed.  This sauce does not like to be boiled for a long time, a low simmer is ideal, keep your eye on it.

Chicory braised in sloe gin

Chicory braised in sloe gin

The Veggies

3 large heads chicory (cut lengthways into quarters)

3 tbs sloe gin, port or berry vinegar (like blackberry, blackcurrant or even raspberry)

Black pepper and sea salt

 

6 large stems curly kale (stems removed, leaves finely sliced)

400g Brussels sprouts

Sea salt

 

In your trusty frying pan, add 1 tbs oil and warm on a high heat.  Lay in your chicory pieces, season with salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes until well caramelised and then turn over.  Fry for another 2 minutes, drizzle over the sloe gin.  Lower the heat, pop a lid on and leave to cook for 5-7 minutes, adding a splash of water if needed.  The chicory will bes soft, set aside and keep warm.  Rinse out the pan.

Adding 1 tbs oil, warm of medium high heat and add the sprouts.  Toss gently and fry for roughly 6 minutes, until the sprouts are nicely coloured (the way you like ’em).  Now add your kale and a splash of water.  Lower the heat and leave to cook for 6 minutes.  Try one (yum!).  Season with salt.

You’re now looking good to serve your festive feast!

Brussels!  Yes, please.....

Brussels! Yes, please…..

Serve

Place the golden roulade onto a nice serving platter (big plate) or chopping board and surround with glorious veggies.  Using bowls to serve the leftover vegetables.  Pour the sauce into a warm bowl/ sauce boat and enjoy the feast!  This dish goes brilliantly with a spoonful of our Pear and Cranberry Chutney.

Yes, it does look a bit like a pastry-based rocket.

Yes, it does look a bit like a pastry-based rocket

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! (Drawn by Jane's niece Martha)

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! (Drawn by Jane’s niece Martha – 9 years old)

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Sauces, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara (Red Pepper & Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

Lebanese Roasted Cauliflower with Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)

There are zillion and one Xmas stylee recipes floating around at the minute, but I would like to take things is a slightly different direction here.  All the way to Lebanon!!!

Here’s a little festive taste of the Southern Mediterranean, with plenty of warming spices and a really rich and luxurious dip.  This Muhammara recipe is one of my all time favourite dips/ purees and it features in our cookbook.  It is an ideal alternative to hummus at this time of year.  I love hummus, but a change is always good!

Everyone is roasting cauliflower at the minute and I’m all for it.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of the cauliflower and transforms it into something spectacular.  Cauliflower is worthy of taking centre stage and in this recipe, with a few adornments, it shines.  The spices and pomegranate molasses here really takes it up a few notches.

I would eat this as light lunch around the festive season, when you have maybe gone overboard the day before, and it is nice and easy to get together yet bursting with vibrant flavours.

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med's a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

As close as Jane got to a swim (the Med’s a bit chilly in winter), El Mojon, Spain

Jane and I are not long back from Spain, where we had a magnificent time by the beaches and mountains of Murcia.  Regular Beach House readers will know that its one of our favourite spots in the world and we return their regularly.  You will also notice, by the beaming sunshine, that this dish was cooked in sunny Espana.  My parents own a little house out there and I’ve lived and worked over there so its just like going home really.  Our Spanish lingo is improving and we seem to do a load more socialising over there than we do in Wales, something to do with the free-flowing tapas and wine no doubt.

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spain

Our local watering hole. A well (pozo) near our house. Murica, Spa

WHAT TO DO WITH POMEGRANATE MOLASSES?

I know that Pomegranate Molasses may not be top of your Christmas/shopping list this week, but it is a brilliant addition to your cupboards.  It can be used to jazz up roasted roots and veggies, as it does in this recipe.  It has a lovely sweet and sour flavour (think cranberries) and is high in sugar, meaning it adds to the caramelised effect we all know and love in roasted roots et al.

It can also be a wonderful sub for citrus in dressings and adds richness and depth to stews, dips (see below) and soups.  Have a play with it!   We also like it drizzled on bread or mixed with tahini to make a delicious spread for toast or even stir it into hot or fizzy water for a refreshing drink.

Pomegranate Molasses is something that is used so frequently in countries like Lebanon and Turkey, where Pomegranate trees are as frequent as oak trees are in Wales.  It is an ideal way of preserving gluts of Pomegranates and turning them into something gorgeously versatile.  It is basically pomegrantes juice cooked down, way down, until a sticky syrup is formed.  You can buy it in Turkey in plastic water bottles by the side of the road. PM is tangy and not overly sweet, unless sugar has been added, check the bottle.

I will be looking at posting a few more festive fav recipes on the blog before the big day.  I’ve just roasted a load of chestnuts and they need a home.  Any ideas?

There are loads of our holiday snaps over on our Facebook page and I am always sharing tasty things on Twitter.

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Sorting out some stunning veggies and fruit down at the Sunday market. Mazarron, Spain

Recipe Notes

When cutting the cauliflower, don’t worry too much about small pieces that break off.  These can be kept and used to thicken/ flavour soups, gravies and stews.  They can also be sprinkled into salads.

Baharat is a spice mix from the Middle East.  You may also like to use garam masala, ras el hanout etc.  Spice mixes which include warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg etc are perfect.

If you do not have pomegranate molasses, use a squeeze of lemon juice and sweetener of your choice; brown rice syrup, maple syrup etc.  This adds that gorgeous sweet and sour finish to the roasted cauliflower.

Fennel seeds are a great addition to many dishes and worth buying.  They add a little explosion of that unmistakeable aniseed/ fennel flavour.  I understand that they are not a regular ingredient and can be omitted, add a few more cumin seeds if you are fennel-less.

I know Christmas is a super busy time of year, you can buy pre-roasted red peppers in most shops.  They are normally jarred and stored in oil.  This will save a little time with the Muhammara.

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower with Muhammara

The Bits – For 4

Roasted Lebanese Cauliflower

1 medium sized cauliflower (cut into 2 inch florets)

2 small onions (cut into 1/8’s)

1 head of garlic (top trimmed off to expose cloves)

 

1 teas fennel seeds

1 teas cumin seeds

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 teas baharat (or other spice mix)

2 teas pomegranate molasses

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip) – Makes 1 small bowlful

2 red peppers

2 tbs olive oil

1 teas chilli flakes

2 slices wholemeal bread (crusts taken off, stale bread works best)

2 big handfuls walnuts

1 1/2 tbs pomegranate molasses (or 1/2 lemon juice)

1 teas unrefined brown sugar or sweetener of choice

1/2 teas smoked paprika

125g firm tofu

1/2 teas sea salt

 

Garnish

1 handful fresh parsley (chopped)

Big glug extra virgin olive oil

Large pinch of bharat and smoked paprika

 

Do It

Preheat an oven on high, 240oC.

Start by roasting the peppers for the Muhammara.  Rub oil over the peppers and place on a baking tray.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning them once, until they are slightly blackened and soft.  Place in a bowl and cover.  Once cooled, cut in half and remove the seeds, peeling off the skin.  It should slip off nice and easy.

In a bowl, gently toss the cauliflower, onion and garlic in the oil, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and salt.  Scatter over a baking tray and place in the hot oven.  Roast for 12 minutes.

Turn all veggies over using a flat spatula (including the head of garlic), there should be some nice caramelised edges forming on the cauli and onions, this is definitely what we want.  Even nice, dark charred edges are great for this recipe.

Now sprinkle over the baharat spice and drizzle over the pomegranate molasses, give the tray a little shake and pop back into the hot oven for 10 more minutes roasting, until dark golden and crispy.

While all the roasting is going on, you can make your Muhammara.  Place the peppers and all other ingredients in a food processor and blitz until creamy.   Check the seasoning and scoop into your most attractive bowl.

Warm a nice big shallow bowl or serving platter and scoop over your cauliflower.  The garlic will be nice and soft, just pop the cloves out of their skins and scatter over the dish.

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

The aroma of this dish is a delight. Spicy!

Serve

Sprinkle a little more Bharat over the cauliflower and finished the Muhammara with a drizzle of delicious olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika and a little freshly chopped parsley.

The Roasted Cauliflower and Muhammara will be delicious with a crisp, green salad and a bowl of olives.  In Peace & Parsnips I recommend warm black olives and toasted pitta bread.  Pickles of any variety will be a great addition.  Now this is really starting to sound like a feast fit for the festive season!

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Beach House on the road. The many deserted beaches of Murcia. Aguillas, Spain

Foodie Fact

Pomegranate certainly brightens up this time of year and I much prefer the flavour to cranberries, our festive staple for tanginess and that lovely festive touch of bright red.    Pomegranate is packed with vitamins C and K and is also high in calcium and potassium.  Pomegranate is also a good source of fibre and will help to keep our heart, digestive and immune system healthy.  Perfect food to get us through the dark, winter days.

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

Hiking up in the Espuna mountains. Beautiful forests. Murcia, Spain

 

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T - Murcia, Spain.

Mazarron sunsets demand a G+T – Murcia, Spain.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms & Hazelnut Tofu with a Red Lentil Sauce (No fuss extravagance)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

We are really giving it to you here!  A restaurant-ified dish made at home with very little mess and fuss.  Our kind of food!  It also happens to be outrageously good for you.  This is utter, guilt-free indulgence.

These stacks sound quite complex, but are actually anything but. In fact, it would be a good restaurant dish for the same reasons. It’s simplicity. A few ingredients speaking nicely together all wrapped up in a creamy lentil sauce.

If you meet a vegan/ vegetarian who says they don’t like Portobello mushrooms, look them right in the eye and repeat the question very slowly and slightly suspiciously. “Are you sure????” They may be an undercover carnivore. All veggies like Portobello mushroom, they are so flavoursome and have a magnificent texture. They can be used in all sorts of ways to sate even the most ferocious of carnivores. Some whack them in a burger, other use them as a base for stacking fun and games (that’s me).

Hazelnut tofu is not that easily sourced, but you can always use firm tofu instead. I’d recommend marinating it in a fridge for a while.  Press the tofu to get rid of most of the excess moisture and then glug a little tamari (or good soya sauce) over the top. Toss the tofu in the tamari and leave for a couple of hours before use. Hazelnut tofu can be bought in health food shops and the like, it can also be ordered online and is one of Jane and I’s favourite treat bites.

You would like the lentils quite thin, it is a sauce by name after all. Add a little more water to make it the consistency of a thick gravy.  Leeks, how we have missed them. Most of our recent dishes have revolved around the mighty leek.  Wales does many things well; sunsets, leeks and hail stones and you can only eat one of them.

Cookin' up a stack!

Cookin’ up a stack! (Fleece essential)

The Bits – For 2 (as a big plate) or 4 (as a little plate)

Red Lentil Sauce

1 tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)

200g red lentils (well washed and rinsed)

1/2 teas dried thyme

750ml water

Leek Greens (finely sliced, see below)

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Stacks

1 pack hazelnut tofu (roughly 250g, cut into 8, 1 cm thick slices)

4 large Portobello Mushrooms

2 leeks (washed well, green part cut off and finely sliced, white part cut length ways into quarters and then sliced into 4, 3 inch pieces/ chunks)

1 whole head garlic (seperated into individual cloves, skins still on.  Use three of the cloves for the lentil sauce)

A good drizzle of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Garnish

Something green (preferably a little fresh thyme, parsley or even finely sliced spinach – as I used here)

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Do It

Wash your lentils well, cover them with fresh water and drain.  Keep doing this until the water is clear.  Grab a medium sized saucepan and add 1 tbs oil, warm on a medium heat and then add the sliced garlic, stir and fry for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, stir well.  Pop a lid on and allow to bubble on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.

Now add the lentils and water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Drop a lid on and lower the heat to a steady simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Stir in the leek greens and the thyme, place the lid back in and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Adding more water to make thick, gravy like consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Preheat and oven to 180oC.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, drizzle over a little oil and rub over the tray with your hand.  Then lay out all of your veggies onto the tray, including the tofu.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove the mushrooms and tofu, turn over the leeks and garlic, place them back into the oven for 10 minutes (if they need them, they should be nice and soft with the occasional caramelised hue).

Assembly job – in a warm serving dish (or you can serve each stack individually on warm plates).  Cut your tofu in half lengthways, pop the garlic out of their skins (they should not need much encouragement).  Now place two pieces of leek and two cloves of garlic onto a mushroom and top those with four nice slices of tofu (criss-crossed looks cool).  You can put these back in the oven on a low heat to keep warm until serving.

Serve

Pour a thick layer of lentil sauce over your serving dish/ plate and gently place one of your towering stacks on top.  Sprinkle with something green, a little more seasoning with salt and pepper and a slight drizzle of good olive oil.

Stacked P........YUM!

Stacked……..YUM!

Foodie Fact – Leeks

Leeks can be a little overlooked from a nutritional point of view, their more popular cousins the onion and garlic get all the attention.  This means there isn’t as much nutritional info out there about them.  However, we know that leeks are champions of Vitamin K (see our last article, No-Knead Everyday Loaf, for more on ‘K’).  We also know that they are high in Manganese (good for bones and skin) and Folates (Vitamin B’s that keep our cardiovascular system in order).

Probably the most interesting thing  about Leeks are their history.  They originate from Central Asia (not Wales) and were highly revered by the Romans, in fact Emperor Nero used to eat alot of leeks to help give him a strong voice.  Leeks were in fact introduced to the UK by the Romans and are probably most famous for being worn in the helmets the Welsh army, who defeated the Saxons in 1620.

Read more excellent nutritional info here.

Jane on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Jane and I on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Follow all the Beach House Kitchen shenanigans and updates on whats going on with the new book Peace and Parsnips on Twitter.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, photography, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Pot Wonder! Sweetcorn, Carrot and Millet Casserole

Corn and Millet Casserole

Organic Sweetcorn, Carrot and Millet Casserole

Millet is birdseed right?!  No,nononononononono.  We see it more as future of food and it certainly makes a tidy casserole.  Millet can be creamy and fluffy, sweet and savoury, roasted or steamed like cous cous (although gluten free).  It is a hugely versatile grain and one that we peck at regularly.  We reckon Millet also has a bad rap due to the sub-standard outdoor equipment shop (named ‘Millets’) that has tried to steal some this wonder grains glory.

This is one of those substantial veggie dishes which makes me think of old fashioned vegetarian fare from the Cranks days (one of the first veggie restaurant chains in the UK, sadly now closed, but there is one left in Totnes I believe, fighting the good fight).  We have a load of Cranks recipe books from the ’70’s and ’80’s in the kitchen where I work and I love to leaf through their worn pages and pick out some proper golden oldies.  Most are simple and hearty, I love their simplicity, it feels like honest food.  This casserole is a perfect, quick, one pot wonder for a chilly autumn eve.  If I was a mother of many children (and lived in a shoe!) this is the type of dish I’d make every Tuesday or Wednesday……Its even a little bit pretty, with striking colours.  Not something you associate with the word ‘casserole’. 

I’d had a busy day cooking for quite particular meditators at the retreat centre (it’s a lovely place called Trigonos) and was not exactly in the mood for more pot and pan bashing.  Jane stepped in and whipped up this little beauty in a flash and it was a very comforting, wholesome dish, filled with the joys of early autumn and millet.  Millet is a superstar, see the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for the many reasons why.

Cooking grains, especially slightly odd ones like millet, can be tricky at first.  Once you’ve mastered a few techniques, millet is simple to prepare, not dissimilar to rice but even sweeter and a tad nuttier.  Here are some ways we like to go about it:

Tips on Cooking Millet

There are three main ways to treat millet.  Always rinse it first and leave to soak for a couple of minutes, picking out any weird looking things that float to the top.

Fluffy – mix one part millet to two and a half parts water in a pan and bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  This will result in light fluffy grains, something like a rice with bells on.

Mashed – follow the steps above, but stir regularly adding water as you go.  Keep stirring and adding little splashed of water until you have your desired ‘mash’ consistency.

Toasty – In a dry saucepan on medium heat, toast the millet gently for around 7 minutes, stirring regularly until the turn a darker shade of gold.  Then add the water, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

I generally like to add just twice the amount of water to millet which cooks the millet, but gives it a little more bite.  Millet is so versatile, one of its many amazing traits (WE LOVE MILLET!!!!)

Getting the best from your birdseed (I mean millet)

Millet swells up nicely, roughly the same volume as rice.  If you have leftovers, it makes for a great alternative in Britain’s new favourite dish, Tabouleh or any cous cous/ quinoa style awesome salad.  You can also mix leftover millet with milk, warm and serve for breakfast as a porridge sub (adding your favourite adornments).  I also like to make millet Halwa, using it instead of the traditional semolina.  I find millet more flavoursome.  Millet will aslo make the best burgers/ falafels, it has a slight stickiness to it, espcially if you cook it like mash.  There is also the option of grinding your millet into flour (use a coffee grinder or a decent food processor) and add it to bread/cake/muffin recipes, it makes for a mean gluten free flatbread.

Jane is enjoying her new cookbook, The Mystic Cookfire by Veronika Sophia Robinson, a mighty tome overflowing with pot bubblin’ recipes and a huge amount of wonderful guidance regarding a holistic, vibrant approach in the kitchen and in life generally.  I bought it for Janes birthday and since then we’ve tried a few of the lip-smacking recipes and love ’em.  If we were dishing out marks out of 5, we’d give it a 4.9999999999999999999999999. I believe this recipe resembles the ‘Carrot and Courgette Casserole’ in T.M.C.

We have been revelling in the weather of late and Beach House has been bathed in sun for three days now.  THREE DAYS OF SUN.  So much, we don’t know what to do with it all.  If only we could bottle it for January time!   Dad’s here and revels in a good feed, we’ve been picnicking in the garden, what we call a ‘Fridge Clearing Tapas Adventure’.  Random jars, packets and potions appear on a chopping board and then we go and sit in the long grass and if you’re Jane, paint rocks, if you’re Dad, drink wine and if you’re me, do both.

Picnic time

Picnic time

All of these ingredients came in our veg box this weeks from Pippa and John in Bethel (few valleys to the East-ish).  Its fully organic and this situation always brings smiles to our bellies and faces, we even topped it with parsley from the garden for that extra homegrown vibe.

A B.H.K. 'Fridge Clearing Tapas Adventure"

A B.H.K. ‘Fridge Clearing Tapas Adventure”

You could use any variation of vegetables with this recipe, just make sure that they will cook evenly (harder vegetables will need cutting thinner than softer ones).  Soggy veg is simply unacceptable behavior!!!!  Millet absorbs alot of liquid, you may prefer this dish served with a little soya yoghurt on the side, mix freshly chopped herbs and a little lemon juice into the yoghurt an even better version appears.

How to handle a cob

Sweetcorn is one of my favourite autumn treats.  They are probably best roasted or steamed whole and gnawed at like a content doormouse, but sometimes the cob just gets in the way and you want to spread those kernels for extra YUM!  The technique goes like this;  stand the cob on the stem end, holding it firmly between thumb, index and middle finger, bring a sharp knife, in sawing motions down the cob, cutting evenly at the base of the kernels.  They should come off in a lovely corn sheath, you then simply twist the cob around slightly and continue your merry sawing until all kernels are liberated.  This takes a little practice and please watch those lovely digits.  There is no comparison here with sweetcorn from tins, they are two very different shades of delicious-ness.

Mwynhau!  (Enjoy!)

P.S. – Dear Brits, you know how we generally use cups.  Soz.  Its just so much easier than weighing things out in grams.  Is this a pain for you to convert?

The Bits – For 4

2 tbs olive oil
2 medium carrots (sliced into thin batons)
1 small red onion
1 small red cabbage or half a medium sized one (sliced)
2 corns on the cobs (kernels removed using a sharp knife – technique mentioned above)
1 cup millet
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 2/3 cups good vegetable stock

2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teas ground coriander
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas smoked paprika
Large pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like a big chilli kick)
1 teas ground ginger
2/3 teas ground cumin
1 teas sea salt (to taste)

Optional Tasty Extra

2 tbs light tahini (mixed with 2 tbs water – stirred in at the end)

Garnish

1 handful of fresh leafy green herbs (coriander or parsley will work well)

 

Do It

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or a casserole dish (hob friendly). Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, then add the carrots, corn and cabbage. Fry and stir for 3 minutes, then add the millet, seeds, sultanas, salt and spices, pouring over the vegetable stock.  Warm an oven to 180oC, pour into a casserole dish, pop a lid on and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are softened and the millet is cooked and fluffy. Try some, if its slightly ‘chalky’ when bitten, give it another 5 minutes.

Alternatively, if the oven is not on, opt for the pan-casserole, a Beach House approved phenomenon which saves energy.  Basically, follow the above method, but simply pop a lid on the saucepan and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

If the millet has absorbed all of your gorgeous stock and you feel its a bit dry, simply pour in a splash warm water (from the kettle is best), stirring as you go. Until you reach your ideal texture.

Organic Sweetcorn, Carrot and Millet Casserole

Organic Sweetcorn, Carrot and Millet Casserole

Serve

Sprinkle over some fresh leafy herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. We have also stirred light tahini into this dish, which is amazing!  We served ours with a light green salad.

Foodie Fact

Millet has been around since we dropped down from the trees and started wandering around.  It is very popular in African and in India they make roti  out of ground millet.  It is much more widely consumed outside of Western countries and in India especially, is making a real comeback.  It seems that we turned our back on millet, opting for what seemed like more appealing grain varieties, specifically rice and wheat.  Most countries in the West ate millet before we discovered corn and potatoes in Latin America.

Millet is not so common, but you’ll always find it in your friendly local health/ wholefood store in the grain section (although it is actually a seed).  It is worth the extra effort and we admit to being millet hoarders, we can never buy just one bag of the stuff.

Millet is high in magnesium  which makes it good for the heart, like oats, and can also help to fend off migraines and asthma.  It is high in fibre and also contains phyto nutrients (like antioxidants), especially lignans (very good guys).

Add to all of this the fact that Millet is completely gluten free and grows very well in the U.K. we surely have a contender for the future of allergy friendly, nutritious grain of the future.

Its also cheap.  Cheep!

Did someone say millet?

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Kala Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Jane on 'The Rock' - Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Jane on ‘The Rock’ – Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Finally, we post something!!!!  We have loads of half finished bits typed hurriedly in internet cafes, but have yet had the time and drive to actually finish one off!  

We’ve been in Indian now for three months and things have been thick with experience and too many foodie experiences to recollect.  Expect many Indian themed post soon, packed full of delicious and authentic recipes……. 

Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu 21st March 2014

Kodai is a little ex-British Hill Station (somewhere where the Raj used to go and cool off during the summer months).  Lots of little Anglo Indian stone cottages with lawns and chimneys, tea rooms and a beautiful lake.  We are staying on a farm, on a steep slope, with spectacular views over the plains towards Madurai.  It thick jungle, full nature and absolutely beautiful and best of all, we have a small kitchen to play in!!!!!

A random little post here, but we are half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere (Southern India). This recipe came together on our first night in Karuna Farm, in the green and verdant Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. We have been sweating and meditating, sweating and yoga-ing, sweating and chanting our way through the early part of March in the Sivananda Ashram, outside Madurai. The temperatures soared, so it is magical to be up here in the mountains where the night air is crisp and the sunrises come on like an intergalactic firework show.

This is a spectacular little farm and we are witnessing many positive projects in motion. They are building earth ships, from recyclable car tyres and starting a permaculture project to supply the on-farm restaurant with some proper local produce.

On Sunday, Jane and I ventured up to Kodai Kanala (the main town). We walked through little villages, with many smiles greeting us, for 2 hours and then managed to catch a little rickety van the rest of the way to town (we’re quite remote here!).

Kodai is an old British hill station, with many rock built chalets and a large dollop of Christianity. It is now a popular retreat for Indian honeymooners and surprisingly few gringos on the streets.

Haggling at Kodai Market

Haggling at Kodai Market

Sunday is market day and we spent most of it wandering around and ogling the local produce. Non of it organic, but all of it vibrant and full of potential. Our accommodation, a nice little cottage in a banana plantation, actually has a kitchen!  The first time we’ve been able to cook, apart from random cooking classes and making spicy tea with the chai wallas.  I was so chuffed to be having a bash at the pots and pans again.  We filled our backpacks with veggies and fruits and have not looked back since.

Internet in India is tough and I must apologise for the lack of BHK activity in recent times. We have heads full of recipes and new ways of conjuring up tasty nibbles.  We can’t wait to share them with you all from HQ (North Wales, which seems like a million and one miles away).

WHAT IS KALA CHANA?

Kala Chana (also Desi Chana or Bengal Gram) are brown chickpeas, unprocessed and packed with fibre.   ‘Kala’ actually means black in Hindi and Urdu.  They have more of a robust texture than your average chicker.  This type of chana has been enjoyed all over the world for millenia, from ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, to Africa and Latin America.  It has been used in British cooking since the middle ages.

Chana is so versatile to a veggie cook, we can boil them, sprout them, roast them in the oven, make them into magic puree’s (like hummus) or even make desserts with them.

We love this rough chana, especially in a dish with full flavoured veggies like cabbage and beetroot. A lovely old lady was selling these bok chois, we couldn’t resist them. I have never seen them cooked in India, but you wouldn’t expect us to be traditional now would you??!!

This is a highly spiced dish, similar to chana masala in many ways. The spices are warming including cinnamon and cloves, making it very much north Indian fare. In the South we have been eating mainly coconuts and white rice, the staple down here. Generally lightly spiced bu heavy on the dried chilli.

This dish, served with a massive salad, made a wonderful change and we actually cooked it ourselves! I have to say our bellies have not felt this good in the 2 month India adventure.

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Grating the veggies for the sauce (called a masala over here) gives the overall dish a smoother texture and helps to thicken things up. Of course, grating things unlocks the flavours of the veggies and means you don’t need to cook them for so long to get maximum flavour.

I will be volunteering on an organic farm and cooking in a vegan kitchen soon, settling down a little. I imagine they will have internet and should catch up a little with the backlog of recipes and posts that have accumulated on my little computer gadget. There are some crackers!
Namaste and Much Love,

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX

The Bits – For 2
2 tbs coconut oil (or cooking oil)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed and diced)
6 large leaves bok choi (plus their fleshly stumps, chopped)
1 large carrot (scrubbed and grated)
1 small potato (scrubbed and diced)
1 big handful cabbage (grated)

Masala
1 onion (peeled and grated)
4-5 cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
1 ½ inch ginger (peeled and grated)
3 tomatoes (grated, skins discarded)
2 teas garam masala (or spice mix of your choice)
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tea cumin seeds
1 teas black mustard seeds
2 tbs curry leaves
½ teas chilli powder
½ teas sea salt
½ teas black pepper

¾ cup chana daal (soaked overnight)

Brown Chana Masala with  Beetroot and Bok Choi

Brown Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Do It
Drain your chickpeas and rinse. Place in a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for 1 hour (or until nicely tender).

Whilst they’re cooking, get your masala ready. In a frying pan, warm 1 tbs of oil, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick fry for a 30 seconds then add the onions. Fry all on a med high heat for 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic, ginger and beetroot, fry for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and cabbage. Stir well and warm through. Cook for 5 minutes and add the garam masala, chilli powder and tomato. Bring to a boil and cover. After 10 minutes cooking on a steady simmer, add 100ml water and stir, then recover. Cooking for another 10 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Now add the masala to the chickpea pan, there should be some liquid left in the pan. Stir in and thin out the sauce with more water if needed. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Be heavy on the pepper, chana masala loves pepper!

In a small frying pan, warm 1 tbs oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves on medium heat. Let the splutter for 30 seconds and remove pan from the heat.

Once the chickpeas are warm through, stir in the seasoned oil and serve.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

Serve
In these parts we’d be having rice and rice (with a side helping of rice!)  but tonight, in our own little cottage, we’re having one of Jane’s bonza raw salads; with grated beetroot, kohlrabi, peanuts, beetroot leaves, carrot, coriander and lots more market fresh bits (when Jane does a salad, the entire veg basket is used!)

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Foodie Fact
Kala Chana is very high in dietary fibre, one big bowlful of this curry with give women almost half of their daily intake of fibre (men a little less than that).  These brown garbanzos are also high in protein and rich in minerals like iron, copper and manganese.

Kala Chana is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, remains have been discovered dating back 7500 years!  India is by far the biggest producer of chana in the world, Australia is the second, which I find surprising.

 

Categories: Curries, Dinner, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Simple Chickpea & Pumpkin Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew with load of lovely coriander

In the Beach House we love simple cooking with a smile and this stew definitely makes us beam a bit.  We’ve just landed in Spain after a crazy few weeks in the UK for a variety of reasons that we’d prefer not to bore you with.  I am super busy on a food based project that I will no doubt tell you about soon, but until then, the posts are going to be few and far between as I type my little fingers to the bone.

Some of you may have read about our winter retreat last year, near the sleepy port town of Mazzaron, up near the hills (you will no doubt be unsurprised to hear).  It’s a real country area and the Med sparkles from our terrace every morning and each night sky is filled with incredible maps of stars.  All that sun means there are some amazing veggies for sale here in the markets and we have loved having a dabble and a haggle!  We pick up ridiculous bargains and then get home and wonder what on earth we are going to do with it all…!  We only have a little kitchen and the Beach House Kitchen (Part II) is slightly underequipped compared to the gleaming ‘Thunderbird 1’.

Our favourite new bit of equipment is a wooden handled knife that we picked up off a flamenco-loving-gypsy-with-a-mullet for a euro.  It seems to be impervious to bluntness.  The Excalibur of onion chopping and potato peeling.  It is worth mentioning that we buy lettuce and tomatoes from this fellow’s Mum, who normally wears a pink dressing gown and a has a cigarette hanging from her mouth.  The dressing gown is held together by a piece of frayed string and is probably one of the most fashionable statements on display, come market day, in little Puerto Mazarron.  We love that market, but this week it was called off due to adverse weather conditions.  It rained a little and was a little blowy!  We wouldn’t get much done in Wales with these kind of restrictions.

We have just spent a busy week with my Mum doing plenty of café and bar hopping and taking in a few ancient looking little towns along the way.  Unfortunately every time we’ve got the camera out, at least one of us has been stuffing our face with tapas, so we are short of pleasant pictures of us lounging around the place.  I’m sure you can imagine the scene we enough and I hope we are not rubbing in our good fortune to be here.  To balance things out, I have had my normal restaurant experience in Spain, which go a little something like this:

Step 1)  I apologise profusely for being a non-ham eater, smile through the imminent baffled glare and disdain, then fully expect the worst…..

Step 2)  I am faced with a decision to eat around fish and or meat or go hungry.

Step 3) The next course arrives and I revert to Step 2

Step 4) I end up just eating fruit for dessert

P1000526

Vibrant veggies in the mix

Having said that, the wine is good and cheap and this carries me through each disappointing dining experience.  You’ve got to love the people in our local restaurants though – a brilliant bunch of rogues, fishermen and real characters.  Veganism has not reached these parts, but when it does, it will be repelled with sharp sticks and incredulous words.  NO HAM!  What are you, insane!!!!!  I love them all, even if they think I am from the planet Parsnip.

NB Casa Monika’s in Puerto Mazzaron is not included in this generalization, as one of the LOVELY owners Jose is Vegetarian/ Vegan, and the food rocks. Thank YOU.

So……we keep things even simpler in Spain and this was a stew we had for dinner last night and thought you guys would love.  The chickpeas here are little works of art, after soaking they swell up like small plums and the spices are very, very potent.  The smoked paprika almost takes your breath away and the cumin we can still smell even when its sealed in a jar in a cupboard (at first Jane thought I had some strange musty body odour thing going on).

We use a lot of vegetables here, making full use of our mammoth stash, but you can really pick and choose what ever is handy.  The classic combination of warming spices and chickpeas will lend itself to almost any vegetable.  As you can see, I like to sweeten it a little with dates, it seems in-keeping with the style of the dish.  You can always omit the sweetener, or use some honey or brown sugar.  Another idea we have been playing with recently to good effect is adding a little soya milk to stews and soups; it is surprisingly creamy and changes the texture.  You may like to throw a cup of soya milk in here and see how it goes (it will go well!!!!) Jane did it by mistake the other day confusing the carton of stock with Soya milk in a pea and mint soup… it was a lucky accident (the less said about her vegetable stock-on-muesli accident the better though)!

The coriander and glug of olive oil at the end sets this dish apart, as with so many stews and soups, that little finishing touch makes all of the difference.  Golden olive oil warmed on a stew is something almost to gorgeous to describe in feeble words.  I am sure Jane would say ‘It’s ace!’ and I would certainly agree.

I’d love to think that we’ll be posting again soon and we’ll be drinking G and T’s on the terrace on your behalf!  It’s a Beach House life, what can we say!!!!!

Lovely salad accompaniment

Lovely salad accompaniment

The Bits – For 4-6

1 inch and a half square ginger (grated), 3 garlic cloves (peeled and grated), ½ tsp cinnamon,1 tsp ground oriander, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground cumin

2 tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree (depending on how good your tomatoes are), 1 carrot (finely diced), handful of cabbage leaves (or other greens), 1 onion (finely sliced), 1 cup of pumpkin (medium sized cubes), 1 small courgette (same size as pumpkin), 2 handfuls of spinach leaves.

3 cups of chickpeas (with cooking juices), 4 fresh dates (finely chopped), 1 cup vegetable stock, sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Fresh coriander leaves and stalks (for topping)

Do It

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in fresh water for roughly 45mins- 1 hour  (add 1 teas of bicarb of soda to speed up the cooking process).

In a hot pan, brown the onions for 3-4 minutes. Then add the fresh ginger, garlic, pumpkin, carrot and courgette. Fry them off for 5 minutes.

Now add the cabbage leaves, cumin, sweet paprika, ground coriander, cinnamon, and chopped fresh tomatoes (with the tomato puree if you’re using it). Time for the chickpeas with their juice from their cooking and a good old stir.

Add one cup stock if needed (if you haven’t got enough chickpea juice). Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are nice and tender.

Sprinkle in spinach leaves cover and turn off heat.  Leave for 5 minutes and give a final stir and serve.

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

We Love It

This is our every day type stew, full of veggies, flavours and goodness.  This is the type of winter fuel that sparks us into life! We worship the tasty spicy-ness of this dish.

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are super high in fibre and are renowned for their ‘filling’ properties.  Eat a few, feel full, don’t snack on all those beetroot crisps you’ve got locked away in the cupboards.  Chickpeas have been shown to help stabilise insulin and blood sugar, they are also awesome for your digestion and colon.  Lovely little chickers!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giant Courgette Hats Stuffed with Walnuts, Sweetcorn & Red Rice (Vegan)

Ready for a final roast

Ready for a final roast

In the time of harvest bounty my mind naturally turns to stuffing things!  I have no idea why, there are so many massive vegetables everywhere that it seems like the logical thing to do, they look so cool served whole and are far, far more interesting when stuffed with something uber delicious like fresh sweetcorn, toasted walnuts and some nutty red rice.

Most cultures love a good stuffing, I read recently that in the Middle East they actually have machines to carve holes in carrots etc, you can buy pre-hollowed vegetables at the market in bags.  Now that’s spoiling all the fun (or is it?!)  I am not very good with DIY, the thought of getting the Black and Decker out to carve a carrot sets alarm bells ringing.   Do I love stuffed veg that much?

Everything is going a very courgette at the moment!  They are everywhere and this is a fine way to use up the wonder glut of this delicate fruit.  This particular beast is of the golden/ yellow variety and was over a foot long.  (This post was written a month ago when courgettes were really hanging out there, now they have finished their shenanigans for another year.  Mores the pity.  Bring on the roots!)  

In fact, the best thing that can happened to a courgette is a good stuffing. Its not every vegetable you can say that about, but a courgette is at it finest full of filling other than its own, it has to be said, watery, slightly mushy interior. Especially when they’re massive like this.  Resembling a marrow really.  Here we have upgraded the mush with red camarague rice, walnuts, sweetcorn and many other forms of ultra deliciousness.  A stuffing to be proud of!

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

I also like to cut courgettes thin length ways and salt them for a while, then use them as a base for an endless number of bakes and gratins.  You can pack alot of courgettes into one of these dishes and the dense nature of a well baked gratin is a wonderful way to serve this normally gentle and light veg.  Having said that, simply fried with garlic and olive oil, there’s another real winner.

Courgettes are allegedly easy to cultivate, but we don’t get the heat up here on the hill.  We also get wind, which tends to knock them down or drag our mini green house away.  We get extreme weather on tiger hill!  We get our courgettes from Trigonos, a small organic farm and retreat centre just over the hill in the next valley, Nantlle.  I am very lucky to work there at the moment and play with all the produce from the fertile land near the lake.  See here, its a magic place,

Jane is going away a lot recently (attending many interesting workshops) and we are making the very most of our short times together.  Today has been a rare early autumnal day, fresh this morning, warm in the day and a beautiful sunset, the perfect day for al fresco dining with some bubbles and twilight all around.

We sat on our bench near the stone circle and wolfed these delicious courgette treats with lashings of Russian chard and beetroot leaves.  It is that wonderful time of year when every veggie seems to be coming out to play (on the plate) and we are inundated with beautiful produce.  The only problem is, what to do with it all? Our veg basket is brimming over and the freezer is filling nicely, anybody fancy coming over for dinner?  We feel like gluttons, but are still smiling.

BERRY NICE

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is berry picking.  How cool is that!  All these free berries sprouting from hedgerows and footpaths.  Leave the berries near railways alone, they use a weed killer-type train to kill all the plants around the railways meaning these berries will be contaminated.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (again!)

The elderberries on our hill are nearly ready and we fancy making some wine this time around, I have a recipe up my sleeve.  The thought of homemade elderberry wine makes us both whoop, and we haven’t even drank any yet!

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

If you can’t get your hands on giant courgettes, normal size ones are fine, but a little more fiddly.  They will also cook quicker, take 5-10 minutes off the final roasting time.

This recipe will make a little too much stuffing, but its great cold as a salad or maybe find another vegetable to stuff.  Tomato?  How about an apple?  Serve with a simple, creamy sauce.

 

Char those bad boys

Char those bad boys

The Bits – For 4

1 giant courgette (yellow, green…… or 3 smaller ones)

1 1/2 cup cooked camarague rice (or rice of your choice)

1 handful chopped and toasted  walnuts

1/2 handful of sunflower seeds (roasted is best)

1 small onion

1 small carrot

1 medium potato (all three finely diced)

1 corn on the cob (kernels off the cob)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

8 cherry tomatoes (quatered, or one normal sized tomato)

3 tbs tomato puree

1 teas dried dill

1/2 teas dried mint

1/2 teas dried thyme

1 teas all spice

1/2 cup veg stock

1/2 cup raisins (chopped)

 

Do It

Cook your rice (as you like or follow packet instructions)

Preheat oven 200oC

Warm a griddle pan (not necessary, but looks pretty).

Start by chopping your courgette into interesting shapes with flat bottoms, so they sit up on the roasting tray, like hats.  We have gone for bishops, maybe you’d like a crown, or just a flat top?

Rub them with oil, use your hands and pop them on a griddle pan, presentation side first.  Leave to char up for around 5 minutes.  Be sure not to move them and you’ll get nicely defined scorch marks. Then into the oven for a 10 minute pre-roast.

Why this is going on, get your prep ready for the filling.

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs olive oil on med/ high heat and add the onion, saute for five  minutes until going golden, then add your corn and carrot, stir and heat for three minutes then add your potatoes and garlic, saute for a further three minutes then add your herbs and spices.  Stir well, so not allow any bottom sticking.  Add tomatoes and stock.  Add 1 tbs of water if  the heat is too high and things are getting stuck to the bottom.

Now add your seeds, nuts and cooked rice.  Bring to a boil, add a glug of good olive oil, give it a final stir and pop a lid on it.  Turn heat off and leave to settle for ten minutes.

Your courgettes should now be ready.  Grab them out of the oven and set aside for a moment to cool just a little.

Get a reasonable spoon (dessert) and begin to spoon your hot mixture into to courgettes, packing it down as you go, filling every possible space with tasty filling.

Now pop them back into the oven for a fifteen minute blast and after that the courgette should be softened and the filling piping hot and ready to devour.

Serve

We sprinkled ours with chopped toasted walnuts, a few twists of black pepper, some wilted chard, beetroot leaves and good olive oil.

We would also recommend a nice tangy tomato based sauce or chutney, a creamy sauce is also lovely.  These densely packed courgettes are meals in themselves and need little else on the plate to satisfy.

We Love It!

A real decadent dinner treat here, fit for special occasions and Tuesday nights after work.  It does take little preparation but the combinations of textures and flavours are worth the modest toil.  Get golden courgettes if you can, if they aren’t in the shops, hit your local veg farm and flutter your eyelids a little (always works for me).

Foodie Fact

Technically courgettes are an immature fruit (which sounds a lot like a good friend of ours) and can grow to over a metre long.

Golden/ Yellow courgettes are not only very cool to look at they are also have a higher carotene content than your average green courgettes, they are also good for vitamin C and A with plenty of potassium to boot.

Brit disclaimer – What we repeatedly refer to as a courgette in this post may be known to some of you as a zucchini.  We at the Beach House Kitchen mean no offense in the flagrant use of our British-ness and actually prefer the name Zucchini, it sounds like fun and has a ‘Z’ in it, which is always very cool in our world.  Maybe we can all just call them Zuch-ettes and bridge our islands vocab gap.  Just to add greater confusion to the mix in South Africa they call these beauts ‘baby marrow’.    

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (Vegan)

I'm too sexy for my figs

I’m too sexy for my figs

You cannot say that we aren’t good to you, here are two recipes on one plate!  It also has to be said that we are quite good to ourselves, this is our Thursday night treat dinner (or ‘tea’ as Jane calls it).   A farrotto with the lovely nuttiness of spelt and gorgeously sweet glazed figs topped off with some citrus tofu feta.

Every Thursday, I’m normally off work and Jane gets back early, we head off to the big smoke (Bangor – which is a small town with a big Cathedral) and we pick up our veg box from a wonderful little farm in Bethel and then head to a cafe and maybe pick up some fruit.  Today these beautifully plump figs caught my eye, I haven’t had the pleasure of figs for an age and love them with a little balsamic glaze.

FARROTTO?

Farrotto is an Italian dish made with ‘faro’ which can be translated as spelt.  Whenever I cook with spelt, it seems timeless.  An ancient grain that has been used for centuries in these parts.  We normally keep spelt for sprouting purposes and love the chew of the stuff in a salad, it’s always a hearty customer.

This farrotto is simply cooked like a risotto, only for longer.  We used some local chestnut mushrooms, fresh garden herbs and giant organic spinach for a classic Italian combo.  We also had a little secret ingredient in our umami powder, a mixture of fine sea salt, seaweed and powdered shiitake mushrooms.  Add to that bags of garlic and a small pile of onion and we are talking Italy on a plate using Welsh produce.  Definitely how we like to do it in the BHK, world food, local bits.

Tofu Feta

Tofu Feta – looks similar, tastes different

FETA TOFU, TOFU FETA, ARE YOU MAD?

As a a vegan, you must eat tofu.  It’s one of the vegan commandments.  If you don’t go tofu, you’re sent to work in Mcdonalds by the vegan police.  It’s not pretty.  Eat tofu!

Tofu feta is a vegan staple and nothing like proper feta but is damn fine and tasty non-the-less.  It is a little tiresome with so much vegan food sharing names with the original cheese/ meat produce.  Its something we’ll all have to live with, but when trying vegan sausages/ burgers/ cheese etc please do not expect something remotely similar.   Approach with an open mind and preferably an open mouth!

As you’d expect from a tofu dish, this is full of powerful plant protein and is superbly lean (no fat in fact).  Always opt for whole bean tofu and you cannot go wrong, tofu is amazingly versatile and we even use it in desserts, check it out – strawberry tofu ice cream cake).

Firm tofu will crumble like a nice feta and if you pop this recipe in a blender you have what could be called tofu ricotta.  We don’t make the names, just the tasty food.

AUTUMN HARVEST TIME

It is that time of the year when the slight chill of winter is in the morning air and the trees and bushes are ladened with fruits and berries.  We had a surprise apple tree spring up a few weeks ago.  We thought it was just a little bush and wham!  Big green apples all over the place.  Result!

We will soon be harvest our potatoes and beetroots, blackberries are everywhere (which is great for walks, no need for a packed lunch!), we will be making rowan syrup soon and bramble jelly. We are also trying to eat as much rainbow chard as possible, it’s irrepressible, which is wonderful news.  We are really thankful for a great summer weather wise and the bounty of autumn is a fine time of year to be a cook, I’ve never roasted so many tomatoes.  It’s the time of year when spare jam jars become a rare commodity.

We love the British seasons but will be cheating again this year and heading to Spain for a large part of it, we then have plans to go further afield.  Eastward.  Hoorah!  I plan on making a pit stop in the Southern Med for a couple of weeks of eating my way around various countries (Jane is heading to Delhi), then waddling around some fascinating historical sights.   I promise to come back inspired with notebooks full of new recipes to try out and a belly full of hummus.

Herb garden raided - My king of bouquet (edible)

Herb garden raided – My king of bouquet (edible)

The Bits

Serves 2 hungry sorts

Farrotto

2 cups spelt grain, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 small onion (chopped finely), 4 cups large spinach leaves and stems (sliced), 1 cup dried chestnut mushrooms (soaked) or 2 cups fresh, 1 teas umami powder or salt, 1 teas cracked black pepper, 5 large leaves fresh sage (chopped finely, 1 teas dried), 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped, 1/2 teas dried), 1 teas fresh oregano (good pinch dried), 1 cup mushroom soaking liquor, 4 cups good veg stock (kept warm – jug with a plate on top will do, or a covered pan on low temp), 2 tbs good olive oil

Balsamic Figs

2 plump figs (halved from stem down), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas brown rice syrup (or other sweetener), scant pinch of salt and pepper

Tofu Feta

1/2 pack firm tofu (150g crumbled with fingers), juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 teas sea salt, 1-2 cloves garlic minced (depending on how much you love garlic), a few basil leaves (optional – left whole in the feta when marinading)

A couple of handfuls of sharp salad leaves, rocket is perfect.

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Do It

In a medium sized saucepan, warm on medium heat 1 tbs olive oil, add your onions and saute for 4-5 minutes.  When softened, add garlic and faro to toast a little, saute for 3 minutes further, then add your umami (salt), pepper and mushrooms followed quickly by the liquor all this whilst stirring well!  Intense.  You’ll get a nice hiss now, add your herbs and continue to stir well.  It’s all in the stir this dish.

When the liquor has reduced down, ladle in some warm stock, one ladle at a time as the farrotto becomes thicker and reducing, intensifying the flavours.  Wow, what a thing!  Keep stirring gently.  Cook on a steady heat for around 40 minutes in total, the faro should still have a little bite to it and the consistency of a loose porridge.  Finish with 1 tbs olive oil stirred in just before serving.

The tofu is best made the night before serving to marinade nicely.  Crumble the tofu in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a spoon.  Serve at room temperature, like most things, straight out of the fridge is just not cool.  It’s a flavour killer.

In a small frying pan, get it hot, add you balsamic and sweetener then your figs straight after, there will be smoke here.  Exciting.  Move the figs around the pan to get well coated in the glaze, cook for two minutes on high heat then remove from pan.  The figs should have a lovely shiny charred look to them.

Figs mid-glaze

Figs mid-glaze

Serve

On one half of a dinner plate, pop a handful of leaves sprinkled with some tofu feta (add walnuts or other nuts here for a super special twist) a couple of fig halves, few twists of black pepper.

On the other half (remember this is two meals in one here!) spoon your lovely thick and gooey farrotto, a sprinkle of herbs and drizzle the whole plate with some fine olive oil.

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (as you can see, we are not shy with portions in the BHK, no finger food in our kitchen!)

We Love It!

Like eating in our favourite Italian restaurant in the Beach House.  Who needs to go out for dinner when the food is this good in the casa and you get your starter and main course on the same plate.  Unconventional, but we like it.  Great for sharing.

The citrus tofu and sweet figs work well and the farrotto is our new favourite risotto (if you catch our drift),

Foodie Fact

Spelt is a cousin/ neighbour of wheat, but is lower in gluten making it acceptable to some folk who suffer from wheat allergies.  Generally its better for the belly than wheat and makes a wonderfully nutty loaf in flour state.

Spelt is said to originate from Iran and is 7000 years old (how do they know these things).  Spelt has always been highly regarded and was offered to pagan gods of agriculture to encourage a fine harvest and fertility.

Spelt has a better range of nutrients than the vast majority of wheats, its full of minerals which our body loves.  It is a whole grain meaning it has a good level of dietary fibre, remember that grains are not the only soure of fibre, many fruits are full of it.  Take raspberries for example which have a comparatively higher level of fibre than oats and brown rice put together!

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Morcilla De Verano – Spanish-Style Aubergines

P1220010

Morcilla De Verano

A traditional vegan classic from the south of Spain, originally cooked to replicate Morcilla (black pudding basically).  You regularly see it served around Murcia, especially on tapas bar counters.  Its a great option for me in the land of jamon.  All Murcians know the dish and are rightly proud of it.  We’ve added some tempeh to the traditional recipe making it more of main event.  I love cooking aubergines right down with sweet onions and the addition of proper Spanish herbs and spices really pack a punch flavour wise.

Even though its called a ‘summer’ dish, we think this is great all year around.  Due to its slightly meat like texture, this is a dish to sate all.  We’re always trying to find dishes that will appeal to meat eaters aka most of our family and friends.  This is exactly what this dish was created for, people couldn’t afford meat and were looking for a delicious substitute.

You know, I love Spanish food and this dish really taps into the rustic heart of their magical range of cuisine.  Spanish food speaks of the land and culture.  It is the perfect expression of such a diverse land and for me, the cuisine of the South perfectly matches the arid plains and craggy red mountains.  Its rugged, its got bags of soul and it can take your breath away.

As some of you will know, my parents have a little place over in Murcia, Jane and I are regular visitors chasing the sun and the peaceful Med life.  This dish is based on a recipe passed to us from wonderful friends over that way, Fey and Jose.  It is actually Jose’s brother Andres recipe and he created it in an attempt to eat less meat (he’s a real maverick in the area, only 0.3% of Spain’s population are veggies after all).  I still have the little scrap of paper that he wrote it down on one night, for me that is real soul cooking.  This recipe is connected with so many memories of wonderful people and places, we can’t help but love it.  We have of course made our usual Beach House alterations, but this does not stray too far from Andres Murcian delight.  Gracias HombresX

Recipe Notes

Don’t be shy with the oil here, remember it is Spanish after all!  The dish should be slightly on the oily side which of course makes it very rich and satisfying.  After eating this for dinner Jane exclaimed “I feel like I’ve just eaten meat and two veg” rubbing her belly.  Always a good sign.

We decided that this is a star dish and very versatile.  It could be used to stuff a vegetable, a courgette or potato sounds perfect.  Of course, its great for tapas and picnics and is lovely even when served cold.

Buen Provecho!

The Bits

2 small aubergines

1 courgette

1 small onion (all three finely diced and kept seperate)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

2 teas sherry vinegar

2 teas sweet paprika

1/2 teas cinnamon

1/2 teas all spice

2 teas fresh oregano (finely chopped) or 1 teas dried

200g tempeh (or tofu)

1-2 teas sea salt

1 1/2 teas cracked black pepper

Olive oil (for frying)

 

Topping

2 tbs toasted pine nuts or almonds

 

Do It

This is a three part saute/ pan frying routine, meaning a number of stages until your meaty morcilla is just right.  The trick is to get everything nicely caramelised, bringing out maximum flavours.

P1210989

First saute, courgettes and aubergine

Start with your aubergine and courgette.  Add 2 tbs of the oil and warm on a medium heat in a heavy based frying pan.  Add the aubergine and saute for 8-10 minutes, until nice and golden and releasing some of their liquid, then add the courgettes and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  This is the real flavourful aspect of the dish, the aubergines should be nicely browned and gorgeously sweet by this stage.  Set aside.

Next, your tempeh needs sorting.  Chop it up finely, it will resemble dried scramble egg.  Add 1/2 tbs of oil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until it is beginning to get brown around the edges.  Set aside with the aubergine mix.

Now, add 1 tbs oil, fry the onions in the same pan (wipe out if necessary).  Lower the heat if things are getting a little hot.  Stir, the onions should take 6-8 minutes to become golden, we don’t want to rush them and risk burning them.  Once they are golden, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, pop your vinegar in to a big hiss.  Now it’s time to spice things up.

Add your paprika, all spice and cinnamon, saute for a minute, stirring all the time and not allowing the mix to stick.  Then add your herbs and the aubergine/tempeh mix to the pan.  Stir well and warm through for a couple of minutes.  Your ready for the plate.

P1210999

Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Serve

In a warm serving dish, topped with some pine nuts and a sprinkling of paprika.

We served our morcilla with some steamed green vegetables (broad beans, runner beans and broccoli) with some pan fried lemon cabbage.

P1220008

Morcilla de Verano – looking good!

We Love It!

Really satisfying rustic style Spanish fare.  I imagine this is pretty close to Morcilla itself and cannot wait to try it out on some meat eaters.  Dads coming soon, one of our favourite guinea pigs.

Foodie Fact

Pine nuts are just incredible little things.  Now so expensive, but worth every penny as a treat item.  They can make a real difference to a dish, especially when roasted a little to bring out the flavour.

Pine nuts are full of vitamin A, so you’ll be able to see in the dark.  They have good levels of vitamin D, for the bones and are also rich in vitamin C and iron.  They are quite fatty, which is obvious when you enjoy them, but its mono-unsaturated fats.  Pine nuts are also packed full of energy, great on cereal for a morning buzz and fizz.

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Served with some blanched summer greens – Not bad for Thursday!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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