Posts Tagged With: Good fibre

Miso and Tahini Dressing

A punchy little number with a good health kick to it.

This makes for a nice thick dressing with a tangy flavour like no other.  The first time I read the recipe I knew it would be an interesting flavour and it’s turned out to be a real favourite at the B.H.K.

It goes perfectly with roasted root veg and potatoes, maybe with a veggie sausage thrown in.  We have it as a substitute to a classic meat-based gravy, good served hot or cold.

I use brown miso paste but experimenting with different miso would work well also.

Warning!  This can get quite salty so use sparingly and taste before serving, balancing flavours accordingly.  Use more date and lemon to balance the saltiness.

The Bits

1 tbsp Brown Miso Paste, 2 tbsp Soya Sauce, 2 tbsp Tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 dates, 1 squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tbsp filtered water, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 onion (or leek, a mellow white onion would be best here), 1 clove garlic.

Do It

Put all ingredients into a blender and whizz until a smooth sauce is formed

Serve

As a dip, over a veggie burger or sausage, or as a dressing.  We had it cold mixed into roast vegetables and also as a beetroot and carrot salad dressing.

We Love It!

This dressing has a rich almost alcoholic flavour.  A great substitute to a sherry gravy!   Healthy food that tastes amazing, you can’t beat it!

Foodie Fact

This dressing has some great raw components, packing a real health kick.

Miso is fermented soya beans, which can have grains (ie rice or barley) added for different flavours.  Fermentation is possible due to nifty micro-organisms that have been used in this way in China and Japan for thousands of years.  Food fermented using these micro-organisms are referred to as ‘Koji’.

You may have tried Miso Soup, but Miso has many other uses and is a healthy substitute to salt.

Young Miso is normally white and darkens the longer it matures, which can be years.  The longer the fermentation, the stronger the flavours.  Miso is available in many colours including green and red.

Miso is high in sodium, but does not affect our system the same way as normal salt, having less impact on blood pressure etc.  After tests is Japan, scientists still do not fully understand why this is the case.

Miso is full of antioxidants (like manganese and zinc) and like other soy based foods it contains the super phyto- nutrient antioxidants (phenolic acids).  Miso is also a good source of dietary fibre and protein and benefits the digestive tract.

Mighty Miso

Categories: Dressings, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Sauces, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Midnight Biriyani

We had just got in from a long day travelling back from Spain (via the gnarled maze that is Manchester), the cupboards were bare and our bellies empty. I managed to dig out some potatoes, onion and garlic and whip up this tasty little comfort dish. It is simple enough to get together after a long journey, or night out and really hits the spot.
Biriyani is a staple in Northern India and its quality and complexity varies greatly. This is a simple attempt based on getting it hot and into your belly with minimum fuss. It reminds me of the Biriyanis served in Indian train stations, ladled out of giant metal pans on a dried palm leaf.  They were always a blessing after many hours rocking around in a grotty train carriage.
Good ghee will make all the difference to this dish, it adds  and shine. We are using ‘Pukka Organic Ghee’, which has a lovely dark colour and deep flavour.  In fact, one teaspoon of this ghee matches the richness of three teaspoons of my homemade ghee, meaning less fat in the dish.

Pukka Organic Ghee

Pukka Ghee

http://www.pukkaherbs.com/ghee.html

This recipe fed two very hungry travellers, with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Bits
4 small potatoes, 2 red onions, 4 cloves garlic, 2 heaped teas chopped ginger, 2 heaped teas good curry powder (or your prefered mix), 1/3 teas of powdered cinnamon, 2 good-sized tomatoes (chopped), 1 clove, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teas carraway seeds (optional), a handful of raisins, a handful of cashews (if your feeling decadent!), 2 cups of rice (white is traditional, brown is better for the body), 1 tin of drained chickpeas, 2 teas Pukka Ghee, s+p.  Jane is not a fan of chilli, but I would add one.

Do It

Heat a large non-stick saucepan with a dash of oil and the ghee on a moderate heat.  Chop potatoes into chunks, add to pan, chop onions finely, add, chop garlic finely, add, then the ginger and cashews, fry for a couple of minutes.  Season.  When the potatoes have taken a little colour and the onions softened, add your spice, clove and cardamom, heat through, stirring regularly.  Add your tomatoes and raisins, then the rice.  Stir well for a minute, all should be shiny.  Add enough water to cover all by 1/2 inch and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover well and turn to your lowest heat setting.  Leave for 45 minutes, without lifting the lid (very important), the trapped steam is doing all the cooking and must be trusted!  When the rice is cooked, fluff up with a fork, adding the chickpeas, then leave for a few minutes to let them warm through.

Serve
Initially we had it straight from the pan, with spoons, nice and warm.

We have had this dish since with a basic 4 egg omelette, chopped up and mixed in or if you really want to push the boat out, mix in lemon juice, yoghurt and chopped coriander and mint leaves, adding another handful of cashew nuts.

We Love It!

Biryani is a real taste sensation!  All those spices with sweet onion and raisin and the richness of ghee and cashew.  This recipes is super versatile and can be added to, making it a real show stopper of a dish or simplified to make it real quick and satisfying.

Foodie Fact

Ghee is much more than just clarified butter, it is used in many religious Hindu ceremonies and is truly the stuff of legend!  Many myths extol the virtues of this golden butter.  It is used widely in the ancient systems of Ayurveda.

Ghee burns at high temperature and the flavour will intensify the longer it is heated.  It contains hydrogenated fats, making it healthier than normal butter and it also contains no lactose, making it suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Ghee will stimulate stomach acids and will help to soften your skin and brighten your eyes.  It contains anti-viral acids and may have medicinal qualities, but these are still unconfirmed.

It is basically like butter, but better!

Shimla Toy Train

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin and Almond Tagine

Tagine Market

I love Morocco, the sleepy mountain villages and endless desert sands.  I always made time for the local spice markets, checking out the intoxicating mix of aroma and colour.  I shipped many bags of the stuff back to Spain, running the gauntlet of some very suspicious customs officers and barking Alsatians.  Apparently my bag smelled like a vagrant (must have been the intense cumin?!)

The variety and freshness of these spices make a tagine.  It’s a bit like Guinness and Ireland, something is lost when eaten anywhere outside of its Motherland.

Add fistfuls of dried fruits, olives and ras el hanout and you have a perfect expression of Morocco’s incredible produce.  This is one of those evocative dishes that can sum up the spirit and atmosphere of a diverse country, on one platter, better than a lengthy commentary or travel article.  It’s basically Morocco on a plate.

Having said all of this, due to financial constraints (being a skint traveller), I rarely ate in decent restaurants during my stay there and have had better Moroccan food in London than Marrakech!  My Moroccan diet mainly consisted of triangles of manufactured cheese, handfuls of figs and the ubiquitous flat bread.

However, I was lucky to meet some truly amazing and hospitable folk, who invited me into their homes (the finest place to sample true culture and food worldwide).  I especially remember a chap named Khalid, staying in his family home in Taroundant made me understand the importance and pride attached to the traditional of the tagine.

I met Khalid in a spice market and immediately realised he was the kindest of sorts.  He showed me around the old city for days, but one afternoon he took me, with a big gang of friends and family, to an oasis where we sat under a fig tree and shared a delicious lunch.  We ate straight from the dish, with hunks of bread and greedy hands.  It contained a few spices, vegetables and a whole lot of care and pride.  It was not a tagine strictly speaking, we cooked it in a heavy pan with a good lid, as we do in the B.H.K (we’re tagine-less, hence the generic tagine pot picture), but it’s almost as good.  Only the name changes, its called a ‘Gimb…….’ something or other.  The results are very similar, but you just lose some of the mystique and authenticity.

Tagine is named after the earthenware dish used in the cooking.  The dish is normally cooked slowly and captures all the condensation, making the dish moist.  It’s an easy and healthy way to cook vegetables.

This recipes is slightly more complex than Khalids, and not completely traditional.  It’s another one of my Mum’s favs.  We are lucky here that we have a wonderful organic farm, just over the way, that grows brilliant pumpkins.  Good pumpkin is as important, as the spices.  Use fresh spices and keep all opened spices in a cool place in a tightly sealed container.  Being tagines-less at the moment we opt for a thick bottomed pan or a casserole pot:

Makes one big tagine or pan full, enough for four.  Like all stews, it is better left a while in the fridge to infuse and serve the next day.

The Bits 

Handful of dried apricots (chopped into large chunks), juice of one lemon (add rind finely chopped for more zing), 1 inch root ginger (chopped), 2 tbs tomato puree, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), 2 tsps smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 cardoman pods (split or bashed), 2 tsps ground cinnamon, 1 small pumpkin (chopped and roasted, skin on), 1 carrot (chopped into chunks and roasted), 1 tin chickpeas (drained), 5 tomato’s skinned and chopped (or a good tin of chopped tomatoes), 1 tbs honey, handful of fresh coriander (chopped), 2 red peppers (roasted and chopped), salt and pepper, handful of unpeeled roasted almonds.
(If we could get hold of some ras el hanout, we may substitute that for all the spices except paprika.  A handful of pitted olives can add an extra tang to the dish.  Especially good when feeding carnivores for a bigger flavour.)
Do It
Start by frying off you pumpkin chunks, carrot and pepper in a pan with olive oil.  Cook quickly, until coloured nicely, then set aside in a covered dish.
Heat the olive oil in a casserole and stir in the lemon juice, tomato puree with the spices.  Season with s/p.
Add chopped tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots and peppers, cover the dish.
Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 mins.
Stir in the almonds, apricots, ginger and garlic and cook for another 15 mins.
When the pumpkin is good and soft, add the chick peas giving a good mix.
Cover and cook about 15 mins until everything is tender, then stir in the honey.
The tagine should be checked regularly and water topped up if required.
Serve
With an extra splash of olive oil, the chopped coriander and a generous dollop of creamy yoghurt and a scattering of almonds and seeds.  Accompanied traditionally by a nice warm flat bread or cous cous.  We made it gluten-free and opted for some quinoa.  ‘As you wish, you are free’ as many of my Moroccan friends would say.
We Love It
Moroccans make some of the finest stews, they are so blessed with amazing local ingredients.  As I said, this is really Morocco on a platter and that makes it a glorious thing.  It’s the perfect winter stew, bursting with spice, flavour and bright colours.
Foodie Fact
Pumpkin, and most very orange veggies, are packed with the important anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A.  It’s also a good source of fibre, Vitamin C, K and E and loads of different minerals.   Even its seeds are packed with goodness, especially omega 3 fatty acids.
The big orange beauty is a member of the cururbitaceae family, making it a relative of the cucumber and can grow to be 25 kgs in weight.

The Djem El Fna, the mad Market Square in Marrakech

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: