Posts Tagged With: recipes

Portobello Pecan Burger with Pumpkin Wedges – Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips

THE MIGHTY ONE!!
In honour of Peace&Parsnips being released in the U.S. (31st May – wahooooo!) we’re going to share a few of our favourite #recipes with you lovely folk. Here’s a real whopper to get started with!
This is probably (almost definitely) my favourite burger. Its utterly packed with flavour and is actually quite sophisticated, not your average patty! Let’s face it, you can’t beat a burger in a sunny garden with a chilled cucumber mojito.
I don’t mess around with burgers, there is a whole chapter dedicated to them, along with sausages, chorizo etc, in Peace and Parsnips and they are all at least this size and tastiness;)
Enjoy!!:)

————————–

Source: Portobello Pecan Burger with Pumpkin Wedges – Original Recipe from Peace and Parsnips

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters with Horseradish and Dill Yoghurt

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

Beetroot and Cumin Fritters from Peace and Parsnips

This is a recipe taken straight from ‘Peace and Parsnips’, a nice light summer lunch:

These little fritters are bursting at the seams with flavours, and the herbaceous horseradish yoghurt tops things off very nicely. A punchy, zesty sauce is perfect with any fried food, lighting the palate up. The sweet earthiness of the beetroot and the fragrance of cumin were, very simply, made for each other. I like to use any green peas or beans for this, but the edamame probably have the edge due to their nice crunchy texture, which adds an almost nutty bite to the fritters. Use any flour you like, but I prefer to keep them gluten free. Gram (chickpea) flour would work well.

The Bits

1 large potato, scrubbed and cut into cubes
125g firm tofu, drained and well mashed
40g buckwheat or wholewheat flour
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
300g beetroots, scrubbed and coarsely grated
a handful of edamame/green peas/ broad beans
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly ground
vegetable oil, for frying

For the garnish
1 big handful of watercress or spinach leaves
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt

350ml thick unsweetened soya yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp finely grated horseradish or 1½ tablespoons horseradish purée
a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
a pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Do It

Put the potato into a small pan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 25 minutes, until soft. Drain in a colander, mash well and leave to cool.

For the Horseradish & Dill Yoghurt, stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season and drizzle with olive oil. This can be done well in advance.

Once the potato has cooled to handling temperature, mix with the tofu, flour, mint leaves, lemon, salt and pepper. Now gently mix in the grated beetroot and peas, until all is well combined – using your hands is best. We’d like these fritters to be chunky and packed full of texture.

In a large, heavy frying pan, dry-toast your cumin seeds on a medium-low heat for a minute. They should pop and give off a lovely aroma. Put them into a pestle and mortar and bash them up a little, then stir them into the fritter mix.

In the same pan, warm ½ tablespoon of oil on a medium heat, ensuring that the base of the pan is evenly covered with a film of oil. Spoon in 2 heaped tablespoons of fritter mix per go, pressing it down a little with the back of the spoon until roughly 1cm thick. Cook for 3–4 minutes on one side and slightly less on the other. Repeat until you have a few fritters cooking at the same time, and continue to cook in batches. Drain on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven.

Serve

Warm and crispy on a bed of vibrant green watercress or spinach leaves, garnished with the spring onions and with the horseradish and dill yoghurt on the side.

 

This recipe appeared on the Happy Foodie site where I’ve done an interview and there are several other Peace and Parsnips recipes over there.

Peace and Parsnips has also been voted ‘Top Cookbook Debuts 2015’ and ‘Top 5 Vegetarian Cookbooks 2015’  We are super chuffed!!!!!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mushroom and Spinach Hash and a Saucy Debate

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Breakfast of champs!!!!!!!!!!!  Although really anytime of day is a good time for hash.  Spinach is not everyone’s breakfast go-to veg, but it adds a stack of vitamins and nutrients to any dish and the body loves few things more first thing.  Give it a go, it might even start making an appearance on your cooked brekkies (or is that a step too far?!).

I always find it strange that the things we eat in the morning normally make an ace late night snack as well.  Hash is proper Brit grub, which for me means it fills the belly after a long walk around our freezing terrains, either returning from a pub or recovering the morning after.  After all, beer and Britain go together like beans and toast, pies and piccalilli, Wimbledon and Cliff Richard (Dad’s personal favourite).  You catch my drift, historically British culture needed food that filled a whole, fueled our passion for hard graft and soaked up buckets of ale.

HASH

An evocative word for many reasons, culinary and otherwise.   Foodie wise, the name hash comes from the French ‘hacher’ which means to chop.  Hash is normally a wonderful receptacle for leftovers, alot like Bubble and Squeak.  In Denmark they have a dish like hash called ‘biksemad’ which means, ‘tossed together food’.  I think this is sums it up.  In fact, most countries have a version of hash up their sleeves, ‘picadillo’ in Spain, ‘pyttipanna’ in Sweden and ‘tyrol’ in Austria.  We love it!

Most people forget that Britain was once struggling and my grandparent and parents would eat things like hash primarily because they were quick and cheap.  Hash is proper ‘poor mans’ grub but this, as we find all over the world, does not mean that its poor food.  Hash is a brilliant way of turning cheaper bits and pieces into a hearty and satisfying meal.  One chap has even release a cookbook dedicated to the mighty hash and high end restaurants are now doing fancy things with the hash medium.

Hash is something I was partially raised on.  In the North East of England there are many varieties.  To my mind, its loads of stuff fried together in a pan, with a potato stuck in their somewhere along the way if you like. Its proper British grub. I think the main thing with pan frying potatoes is to take it slowly and gently, try not to bash them up too much.  Many people around the world add spice to their hash, in my neck of the woods, this is absurd.  Hash is straight up and pure, not spice.  I know that in the States they use the term hash for many differing dishes, some thick stews, some loads of minced meat fried.  Well not it in the Beach House hombres, this hash is strictly plant but not lacking in substance and certainly not lacking in nutrition and taste.

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

I’m not totally blowing our trumpets here (….I am….) but vegans know their way around a nutritious, low saturated fat, nibble or two. As a kid, we used to have this with fatty bacon and probably a load of corned beef whacked in their.  Maybe topped with a sausage or two.  Corned beef was a constant companion to me, or Pek (like Spam, but I found it to be tastier).  Strangely, last night I had a dream/ nightmare based around that jelly you find around the meat in a pork pie. The same jelly you find on Pek, aspic jelly that is a not-too-distant cousin of the jellyfish and seems quite a strange thing to find stuffed into a pie or coating food in general. It was oozing all over the place, like a B-Movie Monster….”Attack of the Aspic Jelly!”

THE SAUCY DEBATE – ARE YOU RED OR BROWN?

In Britain you’re either red or brown.  There is no middle ground.  The battles lines are drawn!  Like the round heads or the royalists, labour or tory it is unwise to mix your allegiance.  Welcome to our saucy world.

Now if you’re reading from anywhere outside of the U.K. this is going to all sound a little strange, but there is a timeless debate raging on these little islands about sauce. Brown sauce to be exact. Brown sauce is a phenomenon that has gripped Britain since the early 20th century.  Frederick Gibson Garton came up with the recipe, a grocer from Nottingham.  I’ve no idea how, but he thought that combining tomatoes, tamarind, dates, molasses and vinegar would appeal to the masses.  It was a hit and apparently they served it in the houses of parliament, hence the name.  HP is the original Brown Sauce, but there are many contenders (see below).  HP was traditionally made in Aston near Birmingham, the factory is now closed.  HP was originally called ‘snotrag’, a charming name taken from the founders name (Garton’s), late in the 60’s and 70’s it was called ‘Wilson’s Gravy’ due to the fact that Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, used to cover his meals with the stuff.   HP now comes in a load of different varieties, but its still best out of the old glass bottle.  Why is that?

BROWN SAUCE – CONTENDERS AND TASTING NOTES

Not all Brits are into HP.  There are many options over here.  As a child I was weaned on Daddie’s sauce, slighty more acidic and not quite as concentrated with a less pungent bouquet.  The main attraction was the price I’d imagine.  Chop sauce is another contender that seems popular in the North.  My Uncle Brian swears by Chop.  I like Chop.  Its very thick and has a lighter flavour than HP.  A good chip dipper.  Having said all of this, for me, I opt for HP.  Having been travelling most of my life, the sight of an HP bottle, with its ‘By Appoitment of Her Majesty The Queen’ and Big Ben embossed on the front, stirs a normally absent sense of nostalgia and reminds me of dinner time around my grandparents house.  Its powerful stuff!

Brown sauce is a treat for us in the BHK, in fact Jane is more of a red sauce gal (Tomato Ketchup that is).  I reserve a chilled bottle in the fridge for special breakfast times.  Its highly processed and not what you’d call a healthy option.  Full of salt and sugar.  Its just one of those flavours that is so heavily linked with childhood memories.  Its also vegan and there are precious few ‘childhood memory’ foods that can claim to be purely plant.

The key here is to cook the hash for a while, on a lowish heat and make sure everything is nicely caramelised.  Stirring gently and regularly to ensure the potatoes don’t stick and remain in tact.  Its a hash not a mash!

Brekkie of champs......

Brekkie of champs……

We’ve had a bash at home made HP sauce and homemade baked beans, but this morning Dad and I had a date with a beach walk.  There are some brilliant recipes on the web for both of these things and of course, everything is better homemade right?!

I’ve made hash with firm tofu added before which makes it more substantial and of course brings a load of protein to the party.  More filling for sure.  Crumble some drained firm tofu (roughly 175g or half a block, will be enough) into the pan with the mushrooms.

There are an infinite amount of hashes to experiment with, use whatever veggies you have at hand and put it on toast.  Eeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssssyyyyyyy!

Things are getting golden in the pan

Things are getting golden in the pan

The Bits – For 2

1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)

10 mushrooms – chestnut work well (roughly chopped)

2 small potatoes (cut into 1cm cubes, skins scrubbed and kept on)

1 small onion (finely diced)

4 massive handfuls of spinach leaves

1 teas balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and plenty of black pepper (to taste)

You favourite toast and lashings of baked beans

Optional Extra
HP Sauce (the only way to go)

Do It

In a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the oil, potatoes and onions.  Coat well in the oil using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to gently stir and cook for 10-15 minutes.  The potatoes and mushrooms will now be nicely caramelised.  Add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and continue to gently stir regularly and make sure the potatoes are not sticking, lower the heat slightly if you need to.  (Now is a good time to heat your beans if you’re having hash and beans).

Cook for 5-7 minutes and then pile the spinach leaves on top, it will look like alot, but they cook down quickly.  Stir the leaves into the hash and wait for them to wilt, after a couple of minutes, season well with salt and pepper.

Pop your toast in.  As a vegan, you can buy some nice, natural olive oil spreads (like margarine, but without the nasties) or I just like to drizzle olive oil or good rapeseed oil on my toast.

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Serve

Spoon the hash over your toast and surround with a steaming moat of beans.  Add sauce in the quantity and location that you prefer and get stuck right in!

Foodie Fact

Spinach is one of the worlds most nutrient dense foods, all wrapped up in a tasty green leaf.  Spinach boasts wild amounts of Vitamin K and A, it is also rammed full of a plethora of minerals like manganese, folate and iron.  Eating spinach will help you against inflammations, cancer, caridiovascular problems and it gives a serious anti-oxidant boost to the body.  Talk about starting the day on a good foot!

Buy vividly green spinach for greater levels of Vitamin C.  If your spinach is wilting anywhere else than your pan, look elsewhere for your daily hit of wonder green leaves.

PS – You may have noticed that Dad is standing in for Jane, who is at this very moment, sunning herself somewhere on a beach in Spain.  Sounds terrible.  She is back next week to really get the BHK rocking.  

Categories: Breakfast, Budget, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

Monkey Munch Porridge

Monkey Munch Porridge

Here we have our Himalayan retreat breakfast of choice; filling, warming and packed with monkey flavas!!!  There are monkeys galore up here in Kasar Devi (Uttarakand) and they bother our banana stash daily.  We are looking out towards Nanda Devi (India’s highest mountain) and the giant massif’s of the Great Himalayas.  Spring is just about settling in, meaning chilly nights and generally bright and warm days.  Clouds have obscured the mountains most days, but even the most occasional of glimpses, is more than enough.  We have hired small red brick cottage with a simple kitchen from a lovely local family. The cottage has quickly become a home away from home and we have been doing a little cooking and plenty of tea making.

Monkeys flock around our little garden, the mischievous macak variety, desperate to liberate you of any stray snacks that may be lurking around half opened windows and doors. There are also flocks of little and large birds, woodpeckers, small owls, vultures and eagles soar regularly overhead and a three local leopards pay regular visits to the village. They make a sound like sawing wood, an excited pant.  This makes the evening trip to the outdoor toilet a bracing affair.

Dawn raider, banana botherer, meddling Macak, monkey brotherx

Dawn raider, banana botherer, meddling Macak, monkey brotherx

We have found a slice of beauty, a place where many hippies used to flock; folk like Herman Hesse, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, to name a few, have graced this thin ridge in the 60’s and bar a few houses, not much has changed really.  There are a couple of restaurants (the Rainbow Restaurant especially is brilliant, Hari makes the best pasta in India!) and a little cafe known as ‘Baba Cake‘ which is set in a corrugated metal shed and serves awesome South Indian coffee, local organic herbal infusions and lip smacking Indian nibbles.

We have met many like minded folk in this secluded corner and the local people are all exceptionally warm and full of smiles.  Five days has just not been enough, but we have had time to do plenty of thinking and dreaming, way up here in the clouds and rare airs there is little else to occupy time.

It has been wonderful to take control over our diets again, and porridge, of course, plays a major role. We are British after all!  We picked up a 2kg bag in Delhi of these precious grains and carted them all the way up here to find that a small local shop sells crates of healthy muesli and porridge oats. Who knew? All the way up here, close to the wild expanses of Nepal there would be such good western breakfast options!

One morning, watching the monkeys reek havoc on the neighbours in their own immutably comical way, I thought I’d dedicate a dish to them and stick as many of their favourite foods in it. The ones they like to pinch anyway (a monkey once stole the banana out of my sandwich one morning in Rishikesh!)

Outside the legendary Baba Cake

Outside the legendary Baba Cake

We would add a handful of flax/linseeds to this at home, but they are hard to come by here. Roasted peanuts are better because the taste is more intense and you can finish is off with coconut flakes or desiccated coconuts if you have some handy. We used green raisins here, but any tasty raisin will do.  For richness and even greater nutritional pizazz, why not try a heaped teaspoon of coconut oil, stirred in just before serving.  This is India, the cardamom is essential!  Like many of the spices used in classic Indian cuisine, cardamom is not just a fragrant delight, but actually acts as medicine for the body; giving it a huge boost, especially needed in the morning.  People over here actually chew cardamom pods, they are an acquired taste to most, but act as a super charged breath freshener and have been known to help smokers quit.  Everytime you fancy a ciggy, pop in a pod instead.  We even like to pop the crushed, black seeds into a pot of tea to jazz things up a little.  So please chew your cardamom pods with gusto, don’t spit them out!

The Bits – For 2

Let’s keep it simple, handfuls only here

5 big handfuls porridge oats

2 big, ripe bananas (mashed with a fork)

1/2 tin coconut milk (or 200 ml non-dairy milk of choice)

4-6 green cardamom cloves (crushed a little, until cracked, in a pestle and mortar)

2 big handfuls roasted peanuts

1 big handful green raisins (or normal ones will do)

Sweetener of your choice (nothing white or processed please!)

 

Topping 

Roughly 1/2 handful of grated coconut, more bananas, raisins and peanuts

(sprinkled over both bowls for an extra special touch)

 

Do It

Check which porridge oats you’re using and cook accordingly, as per the packet.  It doesn’t really matter which ones you use, this monkey madness will be a delight.  Take it easy, rushing porridge leads to a stick pan bottom, a gentle simmer is good.

Add all the ingredients to the pan, cover the oats with around 1 1/2 inches of water and bring to a slow and gentle simmer, stirring regularly.  Add more hot water to get your desired consistency, we like it thick and yet pourable.  Not too gluey sticky.  In less than ten minutes, you’ll have a yummy breakfast.

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

Our cottage it tucked away in there somewhere.  Behind the tree!!!!

Serve

Piping hot, straight from the pan (using a spatula or something like it, to scrape out all that porridge goodness).  Sprinkle over your toppings and munch way like happymonkeys!

rsz_p1150799

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

 

Foodie Fact

Why Cardamom is a must! 

Cardamom (or Elaichi) is native to Southern India and is well regarded for its medicinal properties, especially in the Indian holistic system of Ayurveda.  There are such a huge list, I’ll summarise.  Cardamom has many anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.  They contain a long list of volatile essential oils and help greatly with digestion.  They are a good source of minerals like manganese, iron and potassium, as well as copper.  They are also high in vitamin C and riboflavin.  A true gift from nature.

Jane taking in some rays outside the cottage - Kasar Devi

Jane taking in some rays outside the cottage – Kasar Devi

 

Categories: Ayurveda, Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Nutrition, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pecan and Fig Muffins (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, SUGAR FREE, LOW GI, HIGH FIBRE, …….whatever you want to call them, these muffs are very cool.

The worlds healthiest muffin?  Almost, possibly not.  The worlds strangest muffin?  Quite possibly.  The worlds tastiest muffin?  (Probably) YES!

These are muffins if Doctor Parnassus made them in his Imaginarium (any Terry Gilliam fans out there?)  Containing what can only be described as pscycedelic pulp (great name for a surfer rock band).  This is what you could call a classic Beach House post, we woke up and all of a sudden made some pink-ish muffins with turmeric in them, then thought we’d write about the experience.  I trust you don’t think any of these posts are planned or orchestrated in anyway.  This is adventure is all the food we are eating right NOW.  Steaming on the plate/ wire rack.  You can probably tell by the rushed looking photo’s, a hungry camera man is a complacent camera man.  Thankfully these freakish muffs are totally delicious, have an almost succulent texture and are happily brimming over with health giving properties and the main thing (that we almost forgot) is that they are a pleasing receptacle for your leftover juice pulp.

Yes,these sweet thangs are ‘sugar free’, although I don’t quite get this new movement.  The whole sugar free thing seems mystifying; you can’t eat one type of sugar but can eat other types of sugar.  Its like being vegan, but you can eat goats cheese because its lower in fat????  Can someone please explain the ‘Sugar-free’ craze?  Anyway, these are sugar free as they only contain dried fruit and maple syrup, which are not classed as ‘sugar’ by some.   They are of course, much better than processed, bleached, alien sugars, meaning all white sugar (which isn’t even vegetarian as it can contain bone meal!!!!).  Low GI seems the way forward, or eating fructose with fibre (like a banana) which naturally slows he absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

PULP (NON)FICTION

Jane and I would be nowhere without juice.  Our lives have changed since we got our first juice machine and we are now a happier shade of orange (too many carrot and ginger juices, you have been warned!).  We have been curious about juice pulp muffins for ages.  How can we use up all of this wonderful looking chaff.  Its almost pure fibre and we’re not eating it?  Quite a conundrum!  How can we utilise this excellent commodity, other than adding to the ever grateful compost bin.  What better way that baking with it!  We discover a great webpage that gives ‘20 smart uses for using up leftover juice pulp’ from making ‘pulpsicles’ to a face mask, there are so many creative ways of putting pulp to work.  Check it out!  We also like to add it as balast ie replacing, rice, lentils etc, to vegan burgers and patties (falafels, sausages, frisbee…….or whatever shape is being moulded), it can also be incorporated into a wholesome and frugal soup.  No doubt, more pulp-based Beach House posts are coming this way….watch this space for Pulp Gazpacho.

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

PULP NUTRIENTS VS JUICE NUTRIENTS

The leftover pulp from juicing is primarily fibre, although there are some other good things in it as no matter how good your juicer, dry pulp is virtually impossible to extract.  Too much pulp is not great for the system as the high fibre content may lead to ‘blockages’.  Some would say, and this makes perfect sense, that juicing inundates the body with concentrated nutrients that it may not be quite ready for and eating whole foods is the way forward.  We’d agree with this.  The enzymes needed to extract the nutrients of most foods can be found in the food you’re eating.  How cool is that!!!!  When we juice, we seperate the ‘whole’ food, so eating the pulp later means that all of the nutrients are not necessarily available to the body.

Another theory is that the nutrients from vegetables is in the juice and the nutrients from fruit is in the pulp.  Meaning, juice your veggies and eat your fruits.  This is due to the flavanoid content in the skins of especially citrus fruits.

This is not in anyway us angling against juicing, just give some differing opinions.  Juice is the finest way to start any day and we’d whole heartedly recommend it to anybody.  For us, it is the cornerstone of healthy, vibrant diet.  Juicing is a truly awesome way to offer our bodies potent nutrients and is a sublime wake up call to our system first thing.  How often would we normally eat 4 carrots, 2 apples, 1/2 beetroot, 2 inches of ginger and loads of kale (our juice ingredients this morning) in one sitting, especially one glassful!  You can just imagine what good that is doing our bodies and it shows the effect of bags of energy and a sense of ‘fullness’.  Normally after a breakfast juice, I won’t eat again until at least lunchtime.

These here psyco muffins are beautifully moist due to the high pulp content, we baked ours for between 35-40 minutes (37 1/2 minutes to be exact!) any more and you’d loose some of that ‘gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside texture’ that is so drop, dead gorgeous.  Also, under baking vegan/ gluten free goods will not mean that you catch anything or have dodgy digestion for the rest of the day, so there is no risk going for gooey.

Maple syrup is so precious on this hill, we did a half/ half mix between malted rice syrup and the glory sap (maple syrup).  Anything is better with more maple syrup, so go wild accordingly.  You could use any combo of dried fruits and nuts in this recipe.  With the bright purple beetroot content of these muffs, I thought at one stage that pecan and fig just didn’t go.  For some reason, they didn’t seem fun enough for pink!?  Peanut and cranberry seemed better, and still sounds nice.  Hazelnut and dried apricot, walnut and date, almond and prune……..The dried fruit used will alter the sweetness, especially if you’re going for dried dates.  I’d say this recipe is moderately sweet and would make the perfect, post juice, mid morning nibble.

If you’re not very keen on spice, omit the cardamom and turmeric (adding 1/2 teas more cinnamon), although the latter especially is one of the finest things you could ever wish to consume (health wise).  Turmeric also gives these muffins a very funky colour, especially when combined with beetroot pulp (although the raw mix hue does tame slightly when baked).  You can use most juice pulp here, but things like celery will take things in a more savoury, eclectic direction.  Things like carrot, beetroot, greens (maybe not cabbage), any fruit, ginger are all fine pulp fodder for baking sweet things.

So if you try one muffin this morning, fill it with psychedelic pulp.  Don’t worry, I’ve ate four of them whilst typing this with no obvious side effect (other than a goon like grin and a misty/ vacant look in my eyes, “Parnassus you rogue, is that you!!!!!??????”,,,,,,,,,,@).  All is well in the BHK!

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

The Bits

2-3 cups juice pulp (ours was beetroot, carrot, apple)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (we used 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal/ fine polenta)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil is also wonderful)

1/3 cup whole bean, organic soya milk (any non-dairy milk will do)

1/2 cup maple syrup (brown rice syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice.  Adds to the crispy exterior)

3 tbs flax seeds (ground well and mixed with 6 tbs water.  Leave for 15 minutes to become gloopy)

3/4 cup dried figs (roughly sliced)

1/2 cup pecans (roughly chopped)

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2/3 tbs bicarb of soda

1 teas ground cinnamon

1/3 teas ground cardamom and 1/2 teas turmeric (optional but awesome)

For additional oomph! and new flavour directions (especially if you’re making a breakfast style muffin):

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coffee/ wheatgrass or spirulina/ lemon or orange zest – and let us know how these go……we are trying the wheatgrass version next week.

Do It

Simple as.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a trusty wooden spoon.  Form into big balls with your hands and pop into a muffin tray.  You don’t need a special muffin tray for this recipe, you can form big balls with your hand and place them on a lined and oiled baking tray and then fashioned them into a muffin shape.

Preheat an oven to 180oC (fan oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the tray/ trays after 20 minutes.  Our oven is a beast and can burn the items closest to the fan (do you have that problem?).

Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before nobbling one or two.  Best served warm and slightly steaming.

The psychedelic interior (dampened slightly by baking)

The psychedelic muffin interior (dampened slightly by baking)

Serve

As quickly as possible.  We ate ours with some homemade blackberry and apple compote, just because it was on the hob.  I’d imagine some cashew cream or soya yoghurt would be pleasant.  You will of course need your favourite brew (that means a cuppa tea, not a beer in these parts, we are drinking alot of ‘Iron Buddha’ tea at the minute.  From China.) to hand.

Foodie Fact

Pecans.  These little beauties are members of the hickory family and like all nuts, are packed with the things we need and thrive upon.  Full of very good and useful fats, huge amounts of energy, good cholesterol and dietary fibre.  They are also rich in anti-oxidants, especially an excellent source of vitamin E which protects our cells and skin from free radicals.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Tibetan ‘Magic Herb’ Momos

 

Momos a la GayBoo Homestay.  Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village

Momos a la GayBoo Homestay. Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village

Menchuka, or ‘healing-ice-water’, is a small village in a remote valley close to the Tibetan border of Arunachal Pradesh, Norteastern India.   Menchuka has a real outpost feel and is inhabited by the Memba, Ramo, Bokar and Libo tribes.  A.P. is one of the most stunningly beautiful, tribally diverse and ‘off the beaten track’ regions we’ve ever visited. Its a tough place to travel around, good old fashion slog with rickety jeeps and random time tables (most leave at 5am).  Arunachal Pradesh is very rich in culture, which normally means rich in food tradition and it didn’t let us down.  We ate alot of Momo’s stuffed with all sorts of wonderful bits (normally cabbage based) but this little recipe by Nana really blew our taste buds away.  We made Momo’s or noodles together most nights and it became the highlight of the day.

Because it’s a stone’s throw from Tibet, Menchuka is an expression of what India stands for, which is surely the most fabulous melting pot of humanity, religion and traditions.  Surrounded by endless ancient forests, where tigers roam freely and with a stunning backdrop of the high Himalayan snowy peaks, it is an untamed wild-land where we felt on top of the world (in more ways that one, its sits at over 6000 feet!).  The land is extremely verdant, with seemingly endless virgin landscapes stretching over countless valleys and breathtaking waterfalls.  Transport is tough, small jeeps playing terrible pop music cling to the craggy and pot-hole ridden roads/ trails and the pace of life slows right down, sometimes to a halt.

Some people say that Menchuka is the fabled ‘Shangri-La’ but it was normally raining and cloudy when we were there, this is picture is taken from Wikipedia (we’ve been to this exact spot, but couldn’t even see the village below due to cloud cover).

Menchuka is the end of the road and it took three days travel just to pass through Menchuka Valley from the nearest large town named, Along.  Each valley and turn seemed to unearth a totally different tribal culture; with differing techniques for hut construction, cultivating the land and keeping livestock, worshipping nature and dressing in a usually flamboyant and vibrant fashion.  Some of our best memories revolve around the nightly fire in Gayboo’s Homestay with all sorts of rosy cheeked local characters; hitching tractor lifts along muddy roads with friendly locals (crammed in with the lumber!), searching for isolated Tibetan Monasteries and Monks in the misty pine forests, navigating our way around the local army base with the massive runway construction project underway, slurping chow chow noodles (think a greasy chow mein) with mugs of restorative hot water in local eateries and crossing wide white rivers on long and creaking rope bridges… we had a ball!

Crossing creaky rope bridges......near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh

Crossing creaky rope bridges……near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh

What made it extra special was finding Gayboo’s homestay; a small group of log cabins in the middle of the village. The only warm place was beside the communal family fire, where we dried out with a mug of hot tea after yet another damp and chilly hike.  Gayboo, and his wife Nana, made us feel like we were wrapped up in a warm blanket in our little sanctuary home in the mountains.

Our sweet and very kind hosts welcomed us with open hearts and bright smiles. They told us the tales of their lives, showed us photographs of carpets of Spring time wild flowers blooming in secret places, and made us all sorts of Memba (their tribe) specialties.

They also taught us the art of making  Tibetan Momos, their speciality dish, served with a tasty chilli herb dip, made from a recipe passed down to them from generation to generation.  These momos are really special, the real deal. Of Nana’s three techniques to wrap them I liked the so called ‘pinch-pull’ method which gave the Momo a classic British Pastie look.  There was also the ‘twist’ and the ‘crimp’, favoured by Nana’s daughter Gemma, which admittedly sounds like something out of the Mighty Boosh, but all will be revealed….…

Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo 'fest.

Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo ‘fest.

The ‘Magic Herb’ mentioned in the title was intriguing at first, but turned out to be something very much like a whole Szchechuan peppercorn, which was bashed up and added to the mix.  A process we have repeated in Wales to a very nice effect.  The family gave Lee a whole peppercorn to chew on with comical, gurning results.  We would recommend going easy on them in their raw state!!!

The Bits – for 4 (makes about 16 momos – more if your dough rolling skills are good and thin)

Momo Filling
600g boiled potato (peeled and diced)
200g broccoli (grated)
1 medium onion (grated)
½ tsp chilli powder
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 inch ginger (crushed)
½ tsp salt
1 teaspoon oil
100g chard or kale (very finely chopped)
¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepper (to taste – you have been warned!!)

Momo Dough
2 cups white unbleached flour
½ – ¾ cup of water (depends on the type of flour)
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp oil

The Tibetan 'Cornish Pastie'

The Tibetan ‘Cornish Pastie’

Do It

Get the potatoes straight into a pan of salted boiling water and cook until they go soft and mashable.

While the potatoes are boiling, slowly and gently fry the rest of the filling ingredients in the oil over a low/medium heat so that they turn nice and soft. Take them off the heat before they go brown.

Mash up the potato when it is cooked, then add the fried ingredients. Give the mixture a good stir, seasoning it just as you like it.  Leave to cool for a good hour until at room temperature.

Whilst the mixture is cooling down, make the dough. For this, mix the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and add water gradually until the texture is smooth and the dough is stretchy. Knead the douhg for a minute and then stick it in the fridge to chill.

Then roll out the dough into a big circle and use a standard sized mug or scone cutter to cut it into smaller discs.  The size doesn’t really matter, just not too massive.  Then get creative with your folding styles!  The ‘crimp’ looks like a little semi-circle, the ‘push-pinch’ looks like a Cornish pasty and the ‘twist’ ends up looking like a little ‘dimsun’ style ball with a twisty top. Lee is the ‘crimp’ king, I’m partial to a ‘push-pinch’. See the pictures for a reasonable idea about what we are getting at.

There may be some filling left over at the end if the dough is a little too thickly rolled (they will still taste lovely though, so no worries!). This filling is so delicious you can just make leftovers into little patties the next day, or just snack on it while you are rolling.  If you are Tibetan and an expert then you’ll probably end up with too much dough!  Nana’s Momos were very thin, but we are just beginner Momo-makers.  We had a little filling left over at the end of our rolling session.

Momo's steaming on an open fire....

Momos steaming on an open fire…….Gayboo’s Homestay, Menchuka

Top Tip – if you try and put too much mixture in each momo it splurges out of the end…..!

These tasty little critters can steamed or shallow fried.  We steamed ours, so lightly oil both the steamer and the Momos so that they don’t stick to each other creating a giant inseparable momo blob. They take about 10-12 minutes to cook through on a decent steam and when they are done there is no stickiness to the dough any more, and the filling is piping hot through.

Serve

We quickly and simply pan fried bok choi, courgettes, tamari and ginger to make the perfect veggie accompaniment; eating our fresh Momos near a picture of the Dalai Lama with our minds all Himalayan.  We always serve Momo’s with ‘Senchen’, a Tibetan dipping sauce.  We’ll dig out the recipe and post it soon.

Traditional Menchuka Momos and a good read

Traditional Menchuka Momos and a good read

Foodie Fact

Fenugreek is a fascinating plant – even the ancient Egyptians understood the benefits of fenugreek – it’s seeds were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb!

The health benefits of fenugreek include relief from anemia, loss of taste, fever, dandruff, stomach disorders, biliousness, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throat, diabetes, inflammations, wounds and insomnia. What a plant!

Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh.

Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh.

Wishing you all happy momo-rolling times. There are few things as satisfying as munching fresh Momos slowly as you’re rolling more of the delicious beasts!!!!!  It is a highly relaxing way to spend an evening away.

Om Mani Padme HumX

Categories: Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

P1000667

Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.

We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work.  Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos.  Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious.  It’s floppy leaf territory.

Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results.  Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge.  Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……

I think  my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

The Bits – For 2

1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)

Do It

Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.

Hands off!!!!!!!

Hands off!!!!!!!

Serve

We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon.  It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).

We Love It!

Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants.  It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins.  Coriander  has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Simple Chickpea and Pumpkin Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

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 mental 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 ‘Mark 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 vegetarian, 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 eat 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 here though – a brilliant bunch of rogues, fishermen and characters.  Veganism or Vegetarianism 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 Puert0 Mazzaron is not included in this generalization, as one of the LOVELY owners Jose is Vegetarian, 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 nosh, full of veggies 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

A 10 Minute Meal – Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussels Sprout

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth - On the hob

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth – Bubblin’ away

Here we have a delicious 10 minute meal.  5 minutes chopping, 5 minutes cooking and it won’t last long in the bowl either.  So simple, yet tastes so amazing and dare I say it, complex.  You have to love that!

Nothing says British winter more than a bowl of Soba Noodle Broth….or is that just me!  I love a noodle broth anytime of the year and this one is wonder, putting the years first brussels sprout to good use.  I could eat this by the bucket full, bowls just aren’t big enough.

The first winter chills are definitely visiting the Snowdonia hills at the moment, the winds blows a gale and we’ve kissed goodbye to what was a lovely summer of warmth and light nights.  Sitting in the garden at 10pm in the sun is surely a thing all Britons cherish.

The Beautiful Nantlle Valley - just behind the Beach House Kitchen

A view from the beautiful Nantlle Valley – just behind the Beach House Kitchen, where we walk when not eating like Tokyo-ites

As are brussels sprouts.  They’re like little cabbage hand grenades and add a punch to all they grace, we love ’em! So, so, so very wasted on your average Sunday Roast (traditional British Sunday Lunch containing roast meats and unfortunately over cooked vegetables), boiled to death and flaccid. A quick blanch in this broth and they are a revelation of crunchy texture and potent flavour.

This is an ‘Asian’ broth, which I know covers a large chunk of global cuisine.  Its a hybrid of flavours that meld and work.  Some Japanese, some Chinese, but all super tasty.

In the Beach House we condone slurping in all its forms.  Food should be eaten with gusto and vigour, slurping is an essential part of the noodle broth experience.  We like to attack a bowl of noodle broth armed with a large spoon and some chopsticks, on occasion we resemble koi carp, such is our commitment to the cause.  Jane is a particularly good slurper, we put it down to being raised with a koi carp named bonehead.  Bonehead still lives with Jane’s Mum and Dad and is a big fish in a small pond.  He can also be stroked like a dog.

Jane, is that you?!  Koi carp – like jaws in a pond

This type of broth is best served piping hot, with all ingredients cooked for the minimum length of time.  Freshness and crunch is imperative.  The gulping and slurping actually helps the noodles cool down on the way to the mouth.  At least that’s our excuse!  It also happens to be alot of fun.

We’ve added plenty of colour here, essential in these gradually greying months, by using the last of the years red peppers and some brazen red cabbage. This broth is also nice and warming, fresh ginger and Chinese five spice take care of this.  For even more of a restorative slurp, I added some wasabi to mine which really got my juices flowing.

SOBA NOODLES

Soba noodles are always a highlight, soba meaning ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese, the noodle choice of most Tokyo-ites.  Traditionally in Japan buckwheat can be harvested four times a year, a wonder crop for sure.

Soba Noodles have a lovely bite to them, a hearty noodle ideal for my rapidly diminishing wheat intake as they are made with a large amount of buckwheat (not a wheat even though it is called a wheat!?) This means less gluten all around. For some bizarre reason, soba noodles are normally a tad more expensive than your average joe noodle, but they’re well worth the extra pennies.

Soba Noodles

We use tamari because we prefer the flavour, it contains no wheat and is always made to a certain standard. Meaning no strangeness and dodgy health issues with the soya used.

There are alot of ingredients in the broth here, really, some good stock, ginger and a splash of tamari will suffice, the other ingredients just make it extra special. Most of them can be found in any decent Chinese-style food store.

As can the Hazelnut Tofu.  It’s basically tofu mixed with hazelnuts, and a few toasted sesame seeds, pressed back together.  It is delicious and has plenty of flavour, unlike normal tofu.  It seems to be springing up in some supermarkets, but as with most of these niche veggie/ vegan bits, a health food shop is your best bet.

Makes two massive bowlfuls (or four medium sized):

The Bits
300g soba noodles, 125g hazelnut tofu (chopped into little cubes), 1/4 red cabbage (finely shredded), 1 red pepper (finely chopped), 6 brussel sprouts (finely sliced lengthways)

For the broth – 1 inch fresh ginger (minced), 2 teas chinkiang vinegar (balsamic will do), 2 tbs tamari (soya sauce is a close sub), 1 tbs rice wine (or dry sherry), 1 tbs good stock powder (or fresh if you are brilliant) – to taste, 1/2 teas Chinese five spice, 1.5 ltr boiling water

Taste the stock, make it right for you.

Wasabi stirred in to taste (if you like things spicy)

Topping – 2 spring onions (finely sliced)

Do It

Boil a kettle with enough water.

Chop your vegetables thinly.

Add boiled water to a large, warm sauce pan and get a steady boil going.  Bubblin’.

Add all of your stock ingredients in no particular order, give it a stir (no stock powder lumps, they are the enemy).

Now add your cabbage, brussels sprout and peppers, boil for two minutes, then add your tofu and noodles, simmer for a further two-three minutes and prepare to serve.

By the time you’ve got bowls and ladles and all that jazz together, your noodles should be cooked nicely.  Overcooking soba noodles is a huge sin.

Serve
Piping hot and topped with a handful of sliced spring onions.  If you have a small flask of warm sake available, well done!  Have extra tamari, wasabi and vinegar on the table so people can play with the flavouring or their stock.

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts – Camera in one hand, large spoon in another…….

We Love It!

Soul slurping of the highest order and buckwheat noodles to boot.  Lucky us.  So quick and satisfying, we could eat this for dinner every night!  A soulful soup of the highest order.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is high in Thiamine and soba noodles were regularly eaten by wealthy  Japanese folk to balance their large intake of white rice (very low thaimine) thus avoiding what was called ‘beri beri’.

As we all know by now, buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb!  A berry and not a grain, a wonderful gluten-free substitute.  Buckwheat is full of flavanoids which are very good for the cardiovascular system.  In fact, some folk say  that buckwheat is better for you than any fruit or vegetable.  Quite a claim!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Giant Stuffed Courgettes with a Herb Camarague Rice, Sweetcorn and Walnuts (Vegan)

Ready for a final roast

Ready for a final roast

In the time of harvest bounty my mind naturally turns to stuffing!  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 stuffing 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 immature 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. Here we have replaced it 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.  We get ours 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 everything 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.

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

I have chopped this big boy up, but you could just half it lengthways and add the filling.  This dish is like a vegetarian roast turkey, quite a centre piece for any table.  We have kept it vegan here, but cheese added to the mix or sprinkled on just before the final roast would be a magical addition, a cheese with a bit of punch to stand up to the big flavours, a mature cheddar or pecorino.

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?

Other things we’ve done with courgettes:

Golden Courgette and Basil Au Gratin

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

Char those bad boys

Char those bad boys

The Bits

1 giant courgette (yellow, green……), 1 1/2 cup cooked camarague rice (or rice of your choice), 1 handful of 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), 1 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 (finely chopped)

Do It

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

Preheat and 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.  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.

Giant Golden Courgettes served with wilted Rainbow Chard

Giant Golden Courgettes served with Wilted Chard, Beetroot Leaves and Toasted Walnuts

Serve

We sprinkled ours with a few more toasted walnuts, some wilted chard, beetroot leaves and good olive oil.  We would also recommend a nice tangy tomato based sauce or chutney.  Although 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 farm and flutter your eyelids a little (always works for me).

Foodie Fact

Technically courgettes are an immature fruit (which sounds alot 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

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar – Health Tonic Extraordinaire!

delicious minty vinegar

delicious minty vinegar

It has been a luscious blossoming blooming year for gardeners across the land. Much sunlight and only occasional rain has kept most of the slug and snail critters at bay, hoorah! And over in Staffordshire, Mum and dad’s apple mint went wild again, and started springing up everywhere in places most unexpected. We were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to harvest the lot, bring it back to the Beach House Kitchen and get creative.

When faced with huge armfuls of thick 3ft long mint stems, it is easy to find yourself wondering what on earth you’re going to do with the bounty of furry goodness there in front of you! But luckily there are many ways to preserve herbs – in oils, vinegars, dried in jars; and many uses for the finished product like salad dressings, flavouring for your cooking, teas and delightful herbal baths! Lets face it a whole shelf of different herbal vinegars is pure visual delight – and that’s before you’ve even eaten any!

yummy mint, fresh and dried

yummy mint, fresh and dried

The Bits

Glass or plastic jar with waxed paper and elastic band for lid if metal (vinegar disintegrates metal lids)

Apple cider vinegar with the mother culture (great for your digestive system)

Aromatic herbs, such as apple mint (or all the other kinds of mint too), chives and chive blossom, dandelion flowers and leaves, organic orange peel, lavender flowers, even nettles…. The list goes on…

Do it

Fill a jar with your freshly cut chopped herbs, making sure the jar is well filled but not packed too tightly either… (After a few goes you’ll get the idea, I don’t think I put enough in ours)!

Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full.

Cover jar with wax paper held on with a rubber band and metal lid on top, or a plastic lid, or a cork.

Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date.

Put the jar in a kitchen cupboard not too hot and not too cold but out of direct sunlight and leave for 6 weeks.

Don’t forget it’s there!

Serve

Over salads or beans and grains at dinner, in salad dressings, or to season stir fries and soups.

You can even drink it in the morning in a glass of water as a health tonic, after all what could be more healthy than your own produce soaked in apple cider vinegar!

We love it

There’s a lovely aspect of this creative process too and it’s all about the love and appreciation of food that has come out of your own soil. The very act of stripping the leaves from the stem, drying them, and getting creative all feels like a very natural and heart-warming process; one which our ancestors would have done too, to preserve that nourishing goodness of Summer ready for darker Wintery times. And it is SO good for you! Daily use of preserved herbs gives you a little health boost with virtually no expense or effort.

Foodie fact

Herbs are magic because of the high level of nutrients they contain – mint for example contains a lot of Calcium.

Apple cider vinegar has been known as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates swore by it, along with honey. It is incredible at lowering cholesterol, improving skin tone, and even for arthritis. It is also very good at dissolving nutrients from plants which water is not so good at, meaning this vinegar is super-healthy and mineral rich.

Ever seen your granny splash some vinegar onto her greens before serving? Eaten with iron rich vegetables like spinach or broccoli, vinegar can increase the amount of calcium you get by a third. Pretty amazing stuff!

Vinegar is highly alkaline, I know that sounds strange, but when it is metabolised by the body, it goes through a serious change.  Alkaline foods are incredible for health and keep disease and other baddies at bay.

minty spiral

minty spiral

Categories: Foraging, Infusions, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Umami Flax Seed Crackers and Veg Box Salad (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

Umami Flax Seed Crackers

 

These crackers came out of the blue, as an afterthought, they appeared in a bowl, I stirred them, decided to dry them and hey pesto!  Umami Crackers came into the world.  CRUNCH!

The real reason for these flax crackers was the desire to make a superbly healthy cracker, something to idly munch on without care.  Jane and I can put away vast quantities of oat cakes/ crackers at one mid-sitting, its something to do with the texture.  Most crackers aren’t exactly packed with nutrition, we’ve found that after a couple of these we are sated.  Its all the good stuff in them we reckon.

Flax (or Lin) Seeds are a special little thing, one of the finest things for our digestion.  When you pop a little water on them, you’ll see why.  Flax takes on a gooey, emulsion-like property which the belly and below loves, this is the exact property that makes these crackers ‘gel’.  Just add a little water to flax, leave them for a few minutes and they become a vehicle for all sorts of flavours and once dried/ baked they make crunchy biscuits to get excited about.  There is absolutely nothing negative about these crackers, nutritionally, they are food for super humans (that’s all of us then!!!!)

Umami is the fifth taste, along with bitter, sweet etc.  Umami means ‘yummy’ in Japanese and the Umami spectrum was opened up by a Japanese fellow.  Umami is a delicious savouriness, think MSG but natural.  MSG is not the baddy that many think, it is present naturally in foods like parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms.  Added to this, umami just sounds like alot of fun!

I used a splendid Halen Mon product here, Umami powder.  Its a mixture of their awesome sea salt (from the Menia Straits just outside the Beach House) and some seaweed and dried mushrooms.  Seriously savoury and brilliant for perking things up, stews, risottos, soups…..you get the picture.  Its a wonder condiment.

The Veg Box Salad is a Jane speciality that we enjoy on numerous occasions per week (especially when Janes cooking/non-cooking).  It consists of loads of veggies and other special bits from the fridge and larder (seeds, olives, dried fruits…..), you never know what to expect from a Veg Box Salad, but you know that it will be massive and super tasty.  The exhaustive list of ingredients of this particular salad are below, but feel free to empty your own fridge or veg box into a bowl and enjoy the spoils!!!!!   There is an alarming amount of awesome veg to be found here.

A good salad is all about combining textures, flavours and colours, all topped off with a kickin’ dressing.  Ingredients don’t matter here, this is free-flowing fare, changing with the seasons and your whims.

Crackers

Makes around 10 crackers

1 1/2 cup flax (lin) seeds, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sunblushed tomatoes (finely chopped), 1 teas umami powder, 2 tbs black sesame seeds, 2 cloves garlic (crushed, minced or mashed up)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Umami Flax Seed Crackers (Raw/ Vegan)

Do It

Mix water into flax seeds and leave for 10 minutes, the seeds should be sticky, but not too wet.  Add the rest of your ingredients and stir well.  Spread out onto dehydrator tray or baking tray, oiled.  1/2 cm thickness is good and any shape that take you fancy.  Cracker size!?

Dehydrate for 6 hours until crispy, bake for 10-15 minutes at around 1800C or until crispy.

Be gentle when handling the finished crackers, they are sensitive little guys.  Use a flat spatula for the sake of a decent sized cracker.

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box delights!

Veg Box Salad

One massive bowlful 

3 stems swiss chard (finely sliced), 1/4 green cabbage (shredded), 1/2 white onion (finely chopped), 2 stems celery (chopped), 2 handfuls chopped parsley, 1 avocado (roughly chopped), 1 green apple (diced and cored), 1 small courgette, small cucumber, small broccoli (all diced), 2 handfuls of olives, 2 handfuls of pumpkin seeds, 3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional but very tasty)

Dressing

1 handful of fresh mint, 1 handful of fresh basil, juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, 1 cup soya yoghurt, 1 teas sea salt, 1 teas bharat (spice mix, or garam masala), 1 tbs apple juice concentrate (or honey), 1 tbs white wine vinegar

Blend all together in a food processor, adding the olive oil slowly to for a good emulsion.

Serve

We broke up some of the crackers and added them as a topping which worked out nicely.  Big bowls.  BIG bowls!

We Love It!

Every Thursday (that’s today) we pick up our veg box and are consistently surprised by the wonderful veg produced by the magical John and Pippa.   There is no better way to celebrate good vegetables than very, very simply.  Salad style definitely works here.

The flavours of these organic vegetables light up the bowl, a dressing almost seems like overkill.  The crackers make a decent accompaniment to such a bounty of veg goodness.

Foodie Fact 

Flax seeds are unique in many ways.  Firstly, they provide the highest levels of Omega 3 oils found in a vegetarian diet (hundreds times more than the nearest competitor!) and these abundant oils are not altered by cooking at high heats.  Which is great news!

Flax seeds are also insanely high in lignans, which act like fibre and have antioxidant effects on the body.

As mentioned above, flax seeds have mucilage properties, which means they form a ‘gum’ like substance in the body which helps the absorption of many nutrients in the intestines.

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

Some Beach House leaves picked yesterday

 

Categories: Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Elderflower Champagne

Gorgeous Elderflowers

Super sweet, honey-like and gorgeous Elderflowers

Jane has been a hive of activity of late, rooting through hedgerows, plucking from trees, culling vast quantities of wonder nettles and generally turning the Beach House Kitchen into a herbal/ potion dry/ infusing nirvana.  We have our very own herbal den on our hands and our new dehydrator is coming in very useful, we’re stocking up for the depths of winter with the sun on our backs.

We have been blessed with some good weather of late (although not when we climbed Snowdon the other day, see below) and all things green and multi-coloured are leaping from the ground and heading towards the sun.  Its a wonderful thing to witness and our courgettes and beetroot especially are loving these conditions.  Summer has hit, Im driving around with the car window open and have even been seen wearing a T-shirt outdoors on a nuber of occasions.

This recipe tastes like summer, the smell of the elder tree is something that evokes memories of me being a little nipper, running around fields and falling over alot.  Our fridge is full of the stuff in all forms of receptical,old gin bottles, wine bottles, large gherkin jars, we’re brimming over with herbal champagne and very chuffed indeed.

The has taken our focus back towards nature and the more we learn about the properties of the herbs and flowers that fills the hills and valleys of the area, the more we realise what we have been missing all along.  Jane has some incredible books and nature has provided so much richness and diversity that we were ignorant to until recently.  The flowers are good now, but leave a few until autumn and the wonderful elderberries will arrive, apparently these little beauts can beat the flu!  In old folklore the elderberries signified the end of summer and the preparations for autumn and winter.

If you have an elder flower tree locally, or see one when driving around, we strongly urge liberating a few heads for the pot.  Don’t forget to thank the tree!

The Bits

12 elderflower heads, 1 unwaxed lemon (juice and zest), 0.7kg sugar, 2 tbs white wine vinegar, 4 litres cold water.

Jane amongst piles of herbs and goodness

Jane amongst piles of herbs and goodness (and a cuppa)

Do It

Pop the sugar and water in a large pan, stir until dissolved, shake the elderflower heads (check there are no insects).  We didnt wash them as we live in the air we breath and we wanted to keep them dry and intact, they are quite fragile little guys.

Add lemon juice and zest and leave covered for 24 hours.

Thats it!

Strain through muslin and keep in sterilised bottles.  Wine or champagne bottles look very cool.  Can be kept in the fridge for two weeks.

We doubled this recipe and it worked a treat.

One of our bottles, sandwiched between this winters Sloe Gin

One of our bottles, sandwiched between this winters Sloe Gin

Serve

In champagne flutes, in the sun, feet up, without a care in the world…..

We Love It!

Its as good as champagne and free!  What a gift from nature!!!!

Foodie Fact

Elder flowers contain a whole host of natural flu beaters.

Saturday - at the summit of Snowdon

Saturday – at the summit of Snowdon

Categories: Foraging, Infusions, Recipes, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Egyptian Ful Medames

Egyptian Ful Medames

Egyptian Ful Medames

 

We have hardly been prolific of late, both of us busy as bees.  Things are about to change.  Raw Earth Month is about to commence, more of that later.

It’s great to be getting back in the blog flow, so I thought I’d start with a simple little stew that we love, get warmed up gently.  So its semi-official, the Beach House is back and in many ways, better than ever!!!!!!!

I love broad beans.  They are surprisingly one of Britian’s most ancient crops and we used to make bread out of it until our seafaring sorts brought wheat to these shore.  I haven’t tried broad bean bread, but it sounds mighty.

This is a simple stew and ideal for a midweek dinner, hearty and superbly healthy, it also only takes a short time to prepare.

This may well be the national dish of Egypt, but it’s also served throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Ful (I like to mispronounce it ‘fool’) Medames is a rich, spiced stew that was a true food revelation when I ate it in Cairo old town all those years ago (seven to be exact).  The food of Egypt was a pleasant surprise, as it does not have the reputation of say Lebanon or Iran.  I can think of one little restaurant, buffet style, with fresh flat bread, heavenly light hummus and a large dollop of this on a steel plate.  You can keep your Michelin star joints, this was real food, heart and soul.  They also showed very entertaining Egyptian TV and a beautiful recitation of the Koran, it was a multi-media feast.

The Sphinx and I, many moons ago in Egypt with a smile

The Sphinx and I, many moons ago in Egypt with a smile

This dish is equalled by an Arabian recipe, heavy on the tahini and tomato, which transports broad (fava) beans to something supreme.  I’ll be whipping that up in the future for sure.  Broad beans have such a great, chewy texture, they are great fodder for visiting meat eaters and would sate any ravenous carnivore, especially if you serve topped with a fried egg and lashing of warm bread.  YUM, YUM……

Alas, we live halfway up the hill in sunny Wales and my duty in the Beach House Kitchen it to bring the flavours of the world into our lovely little cottage.  Last night it was flavours of the pharaohs that we dined on and no, we were not walking like an Egyptian afterwards.

Makes one big pan full, enough for 8:

The Bits

1kg whole dried fava beans, 3 garlic clove (blended), 1 red onion (blended), 50g fresh coriander, 25g fresh parsley, 1 large lemons (juice and zest), 1 small hot chilli (finely sliced), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, 700ml good tomato passata, 3 heaped tsp tomato puree
3 heaped tsp brown sugar, 100ml olive oil, sea salt and black pepper

Add a tablespoon of light tahini for added richness.

Do It

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and cook for around one hour until tender.

Toast cumin seeds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, no oil, pop in a pestle and mortar and grind (ground cumin is also fine, but just not as good)

Blend the onion and garlic in a food processor, then fry gently in a little oil. Meanwhile, chop and mix the herbs, oil, lemon juice, chilli and spices.

Add this mixture to the onions and garlic, then cook for a few minutes. Add the passata and tomato puree plus 100ml of fresh water, which you can first use to wash the remains of the passata out of the jar or packet it came in.

Cook for a ten more minutes and then add the beans. Continue to simmer and taste – adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. The beans will be ready as soon as the seasoning is balanced and the sauce is nice and thick.

Ful Medames

Ful Medames

Serve

Eat straight away or allow it to cool, divide into portions and freeze. It’s traditionally eaten with pitta bread, tomato and cucumber salad and a fried egg.

We Love It!

I love bringing the flavours of the bustling streets of Cairo into our quiet little kitchen.  Food evokes so many memories of travel for me and these flavours are allow me to relive days and nights in more exotic times.  I love Wales, but its good to mix things up, regularly.

Foodie Fact

Broad beans offer awesome levels of fibre, keeping the belly and below very happy.  They are full of folate, which lessens heart issues and other nasty diseases.  A cup of broad beans contains 40% of your daily iron (and fibre) and is a brilliant source of lean protein.  They are also easy to grow and even grow well in our windswept veg patch.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rambo Tomato and Roast Fennel Curry

Rambo Tomato and Roast Fennel Curry

Rambo Tomato and Roast Fennel Curry

With tomatoes literally (almost!) falling from vines before our eyes, this is a curry that is local spice bonanza. For many years I’ve been hunched over a bubbling pot of fragrant curry masala: a spoonful here, a spoonful there; ever seeking perfection in blends of spices and sometimes herbs. This is not it, but its mighty close.

Some of my spices are straight from India, brought back on the plane in my backpack. The pack itself stunk like a Mumbai spice shop, fortunately I flew Egypt Air, Egyptians are no strangers to aromatic spices themselves. During the flight, I got vague sniffs of cumin and turmeric, I knew where they were coming from and I smiled, safe in the knowledge that I was smuggling curried gold dust.

People seem put off by curries, the list of ingredients itself can be daunting. It’s actually fairly straightforward, if you are a little organised (which for curries I am). Once you learn the basics of curry making, especially with a healthy tomato base like here, you are off into a world of pungent kitchen happiness.

These tomatoes are curiously named ‘Rambo’. I have no idea why and when I asked the tomato man at the market he simply said “Because they are from around here.” with suitable gruffness and disdain. They are a macho lot in these parts after all!

A little snap taken on a rambla walk near our casa.

A little snap taken on a rambla walk near our casa.

There are many spices here, not an everyday curry, but one fit for a feast and fine friends. The main difference between Indian food in restaurants and at home is that Indian chefs are not afraid to be wild and free with the spices. They also normally add lashing of ghee (clarified butter) to make it sparkle and tantalise. This tomato curry is perfect for the calorie conscious curry muncher, full of flavour and superbly healthy. This surely is some kind of elixir!  After some Indian meals in restaurants I feel quite heavy and lethargic (with a smile on my face however), you don’t get that treatment here.

Please try and buy good spices and keep them out of sunlight and in a sealable container. It is well worth it, a little effort could produce a curry that blows your mind.

This makes one large panful, enough for at least six hungry curry fiends.

The Bits

6 lovely large and ripe red tomatoes (chop – see below), 1 large onion (sliced), 1 stick of celery (thinly sliced), 8-10 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 1 bulb of fennel (sliced), 1 large red pepper, 2 inch sq of fresh ginger (finely chopped), 2 teas fennel seeds, 1 teas yellow mustard seeds, 2 star anise, 2 teas ground coriander, 1 teas turmeric, 2 teas curry powder (a good one), 1 teas cumin, 8 fresh green cardamoms, ½ teas chilli powder (or as incendiary as you prefer).

Do It

Prepare all of your spices, this is quickly cooked and you don’t want to be fumbling around with packets and lids which normally leads me towards turmeric leaks and general chaos. Pop all ground spices into into a dry bowl, and the anise and cardamom into another.

Chop two tomatoes finely, forming something resembling pulp. The rest can be cut into large segments, roughly 8 to a normal sized tomato.

In a hot pan with a good glug of oil, roast off your fennel and peppers until both have colour and a little softness to them. Set aside and cover.

In the same pan on high heat, add more oil (1 tbs) and fry off your onions until soft (5mins) then add your fennel seeds and yellow mustard seeds, give a minute and constantly stir. Then the celery, garlic and ginger, stir in and give another minute and keep it all moving. Then for the spices (being careful not to burn them, add water if needed), add your spices and stir well for couple of minutes, then the cardamom and star anise can be added and the well chopped tomatoes added. Stir well and get all the flavour incorporated from the pan base (that’s the good stuff!)

Cover tightly and lower heat, leave to simmer and infuse for 10 minutes. Stir in your roasted fennel, peppers and tomato segments. Cover again and cook for a further 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

Try not to stir this curry much at this stage, you want the tomatoes retain their shape and texture.

Rambo Tomato and Roast Fennel Curry

Rambo Tomato and Roast Fennel Curry

Serve

Finish with a splash of olive oil stirred in (gives it shine and a little richness) then blob on some yoghurt and brown rice, topped all fresh coriander leaves. The serving style that we like to call ‘A La Beach House’.

We Love It!

One of our favourite homemade curry delights that we’d love you to try.  We made it for a recent curry night and there were many mmmmmmm’s.

Foodie Fact

Fennel is of the same family as parsley, cumin, carraway and dill.  Fennel could we be native to Spain and is a highly sought after veg in these parts.  Fennel contains many essential oil compounds, anti-oxidants and a good amount of dietary fibre.  Although the seeds are the real stars of the fennel plant, packed full of many, many good things.

 

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Himalayan Porridge

 

P1190020

Himalayan Porridge

We are a long, long way from the Himalayas at the moment.  We can see the beautiful blue Mediterranean from our terrace!  There are a few hills, but thats it for undulations.  It is winter here in Murcia though and it can get a little chilly in the mornings so this very special porridge has kept Jane and I nice and cosy.

This recipe has made it’s way to the Beach House all the way from the high Himalayas in northwest India, a tiny village set below some of the most beautiful mountain ranges imaginable.  Our wonderful friend Mary is spending the winter up there with her new husband Arjun.  Mary is braving  -20oC weather conditions and much snow in a small traditional house.  The peace and beauty of the place is truly magical.

This porridge is a recipe that they make together regularly to warm their cockles; simple, cheap and very hearty.  This porridge sticks to the ribs all day and acts as central heating for the body way up there in the mountain airs.

I visited the Himalayas a couple of years ago and was blown away by the beauty, diversity and scale of this mountain range.  I had the pleasure of meeting Mary in the small village that she now calls home, but luckily visited in the summertime when it is snow free!

Up in the Himalayas, near the source of the Ganges, 2010

Up in the Himalayas, near the source of the Ganges, 2010

This porridge is super high energy food and will set anybody up for the day ahead.  Nuts, honey, oats and coconut mean that it’s a very tasty treat too and the spices add a very Indian flavour.  Most of the ingredients must be soaked the night before, this makes them swell up and release more nutrients, it also makes them easier to digest and cook.

We didn’t have cashews for the recipe, so we used hazelnuts instead.  Cashews will certainly give it more of Himalayan feel, they are freely available up there.

Remember to cook your porridge on a low heat and stir regularly.  Good porridge needs good lovin’ and attention.  No lumps, nice and smooth.

We have made this recipe dairy free by using soya yoghurt and milk and it is equally delicious.

Over to Mary, way up their in the rare airs……

The Bits

2 mugs of organic oats, lots of whole organic milk, 1 small handful of freshly grated coconut, 4 cardamoms, 1 small stick of cinnamon, 1 full handful of organic sultanas, honey (to taste), handful of cashew nuts chopped and roasted (without using oil), live Greek yogurt

Do It

Leave all the ingredient’s (bar honey, nuts and yogurt) soaking in milk overnight. In the morning add more milk and simmer as slowly as possible (this is one for the bottom of an Arga) for 30 minutes using one of those flat metal mats to diffuse the flame.

Pour onto a dinner plate and spread evenly. Wait for 5 minutes then cover with a thin’ish layer of live curd (organic thick Greek yogurt will suffice), drizzle honey on top and sprinkle with halved roasted cashew nuts.  Serve the liquid from the coconut first to aid digestion. The nuts and coconut take a number of hours to digest so it’s very satisfying for us poor sadhus!

Serve

Allow to cool (remember the three bears story!!!!) and top with more nuts and raisins.

Himalayan Porridge (by the pool!)

Himalayan Porridge (by the pool in a tapas bowl!)

We Love It!

Just thinking about Mary and Arjun sitting around their fire and eating this breakfast fills us with the magic of travel and the beauty of world.

Foodie Fact

Oats are a hardy grain that flourishes in the worst of soil conditions.  Even though most oats are hulled this does not remove their bran and germ, this maintains their nutritional and fibre properties.  If sustenance and energy is what you are looking for, you cannot beat an oat.  They are also great for people suffering from diabetes or heart conditions due to some unique antioxidants.

Mary at her tiger pool up in the Himalayas

Mary at her tiger pool up in the Himalayas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Breakfast, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Rasta Pasta Sauce

Jane in the ‘Lemons’ kitchen

We’re down in Mazzarron, Murcia (Espana!) and having a ball, basically taking along break and getting down with the Spanish vibes (manana!).   Lack of internet means little Beach House stuff, but we are getting a little more organised, so hope to be posting a few bits in the near future.  The sun shining, the weather is sweet……yeahX

After a wander down the local fruit and veg market we headed back to the ‘Lemons’ (our little flat near the sea) along the beach full of inspiration and big bags of odd looking tomatoes. We came up with this gorgeous and simple rich-tasting pasta dish using aubergines and yellow peppers.  We called it rasta pasta, you can take it easy, whip it up in minutes and spend more time in the sun with some good tunes.

Buen Provecho, JaneX

Getting things started, Aubergine and Peppers frying up

The Bits

1tbs cooking oil, half a large aubergine (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized yellow peppers (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized onions (chopped into 1cm cubes), 3 cloves garlic (chopped finely), 5 tomatoes, cracked black pepper, sea salt, 1tsp of mixed herbs, 1tbs balsamic vinegar, 1tsp runny honey (local por favor), fresh parsley, brown spaghetti (we liked).

Do It

Chop the aubergine into rough cubes and fry in oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and keep cooking until everything is soft and roasted and smelling good.  Put them in a bowl and cover.

In the same pan, fry the onions gently on a lower heat in a little more oil, for about 5 mins until soft. Then add the chopped garlic and cook gently so everything goes caramalised.

Chop up your tomatoes roughly, then add to the pan. We left the skins on. Pepper and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs, balsamic vinegar and honey and turn up the heat to medium. Stir everything around then cover and leave to reduce for 15 minutes until the sauce is perfectly thick and ready for the pasta.

Rasta pasta in the mix

Serve

We used brown spaghetti which was beautiful or whatever pasta you prefer.  Mix all mixed together with a little splash more olive oil making it juicy and rich. Oh and a rather decadent side salad with avocados and sprouts.

What a feast!

RASTA PASTA

We Love It!

This dish is a wonder and has virtually no fat. It proves that the need for cheese with pasta is a myth and it has all the colours of reggae! Yippeee!

Foodie Fact

Aubergines are brilliant!  Low in calories and rich in fibre, they are full of the vitamin B’s and are good for anti-oxidants.

 

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ang’s Quinoa and Roast Veggie Salad

A recipe here from a friend of the Beach House Kitchen.  All the way from sunny Auckland (New Zealand that is), Ang floats over some tasty bites over to the Beach House.  WE LOVE ANGx  

I met Ang in Barcelona, where she lived a tofu chuck away from a health food shop.  I needed some ‘health’ after being on the road for too long and eating out of dusty stalls.  Ang cooked up some amazing vegan treats and planted seeds that have now formed the BHK.  

We will be munching this soon and having tasted Ang’s cooking, just know that it will be very, very delicious indeed.  

Cheers AngX:

Ang sporting socks and deer

YUM!

Being a vegetarian on a low-FODMAP foods hasn’t been easy. No beans, chickpeas or lentils are allowed, but thank goodness for the almighty Quinoa.

I made some delicious quinoa and courgette fritters one night last week and had loads of quinoa left over, which resulted in this beast of a salad mixed together in a huge moroccan salad bowl – perfect for parties or BBQ’s.

-Cubed veggies, roasted (potato, pumpkin, carrot, courgette) with fresh rosemary and oregano
-Quinoa
-Baby spinach
-Feta
-Raisins
-Baby tomatoes

Dressing
-lemon juice
-dijon mustard
-basalmic vinegar
-olive oil
-S&P

Salads like this are so hearty and can be adapted in so many ways. Add olives? Avocado? Seeds? Make it your own 🙂

Ang’s Quinoa and Roast Veggie Salad

If there are any other friends of the BHK (thats all of you!) who would like to send us a recipe, we would love to hear from you and will most probably, depending on the deliciousness of the dish, put it onto the blog. 

Categories: Recipes, Salads | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Something like a Black Prince Tomato

These little toms are mind-blowingly tasty and light up this fabulous raw soup recipe.  We believe they are called Black Princes, but cannot be sure.  If they are Black Princes, they originated in Siberia but we picked them up from the wonderful John and Pippa in the small village of Bethel (a couple of valleys away). They are stunning tomatoes to look at, purple and dark green inside and mottled with emerald patches on the outside.  The most surprising thing about these tomatoes is that they have been grown organically in Wales (the land of the shy sun).  How is this possible?  I put it down to great expertise and poly tunnels, 20 years of growing experience also helps!  We are so very grateful to the brilliant Pippa and John for eeking out the best of the conditions of this, the wettest and worst summer on this grey island for over 100 years.  Can you imagine what they’d do in Spain!  Jane and I are almost addicted to these little gems, even scoffing them like popcorn whilst watching a samurai movie recently.

So whats all this about a Black Prince anyway? 

Well, the Black Prince (apart from just having the most epic name of any tomato we have encountered) is one of the most popular black tomatoes in the world (more dark green than black to be honest).  These toms are classed as an heirloom variety in the U.S. (see the foodie fact below) and have a wonderful deep, rich and fruity flavour.  The Black Prince is known as a ‘true Siberian tomato’, which makes it perfect for growing in cooler climates like our little grey island.

They say an Indian summer is coming to these parts, having experienced a couple of these myself in India, I am not sure that this is an accurate description of the potential weather situation.  We can however hope for some late summer sun which makes for a perfect raw soup climate.  But raw soups are not just for the summertime.

One of the things we both struggled to imagine prior to our month of raw food eating in June, was sitting down in front of our fire in mid-December, all wrapped up warm with thermals on and tucking into a cold soup with a salad.  We now know that this would work out just fine.  Although the temperature outside is chilly, the effect this kind of soup has on body and mind is seriously rejuvenating and they are absolutely jam packed full with the vitamins etc. that your body needs come the darker months.

This soup really does the black prince toms justice, it’s refreshing and not shy of a few flavours.  Whether you feel like sparkling some more, or are getting over a good old-fashioned beer garden adventure, this soup will get you zinging in all the right places.

The juice in the recipe replaces a traditional stock.  We have been experimenting with this juicy method and have had some brilliant results in mainly raw soups and stews.  No stock can live up to the vibrancy and freshness of a raw juice, especially for a chilled soup like this one.  We picked only the freshest flavours here and the combination of the tomatoes, peppers, oranges, chilli, coriander and ginger……well you can imagine!  With all those colours in a bowl, expect fireworks!

We like to use a little of the orange zest, it gives it even more pizzazz. The dates are essential to balance the saltiness of the miso.  You could use honey or agave syrup if you fancied, but there is something wonderful about adding dates to savoury food.  Avocado is perfect in soups, but does mean that it must be eaten within a day.  The avos add creaminess without the cream and are a great little raw food trick.

If you don’t own a juicer, just buy some fresh carrot juice instead.  You could also use the same quantity of water, but it would be slightly lacking.  You may also omit the sprouted mung beans and still produce a wonderful bowl of happiness, we just had a glut of them to hand.

Black Prince Tomatoes

This recipe is enough for two big bowlfuls with ample seconds.

The Bits

10 ripe black cherry tomatoes (or the best cherry tomatoes you can get your hands on), 3 ripe tomatoes (the bigger variety), 1 avocado, 1 big handful mung bean sprouts, 250ml carrot and celery juice (that’s roughly 4 large carrots and 1 stick celery), 1 big handful chopped coriander, 1 yellow pepper (chopped), 1 tbsp flax oil (or good olive oil), 1 tsp miso paste, 2 cm cube ginger (finely chopped), 1 clove garlic (mashed), 1/2 red chilli (or 1/2 teas chilli flakes), juice of 1 orange (with half the zest), 3 finely chopped dates

Do It

Make your juice first and then placed all ingredients in a food processor.  Blitz and add the juice gradually.  We think a minute or so is enough, maintain a few chunks, a longer blitz means a smoother soup.

Pre-blitz

Serve

Just not quite chilled and with a good handful of freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) as a topping and a scattering of sprouted mung beans.

We Love It!

Our favourite soup yet and deserving of the Black Prince’s great sacrifice.

Black Prince Cherry Tomato and Coriander Soup

Foodie Fact

In America ‘heirloom’ veggies are all the rage.  The Black Prince is an ‘heirloom’ fruit, which basically means that they are pure seeds and have not been touched by any GM crops.  At local markets in Britain, it is great to see people growing our indigenous varieties again, all mis-shapen and knobbly, with real flavours and textures.  Many people are single handedly keeping these varieties in existence and passing on these heirlooms to future generations.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Khoresh Bademjan – Persian Aubergine Stew

The Dhaba – Spice Tray

Persian (or Iranian) food is a favourite of mine, but something I haven’t cooked for a long time.  It is similar to Indian food and the food of other areas in the Middle East; namely Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan.  Some would say that these countries food cultures are similar to Persian food, after all, they were there first!  Ancient Persia, Darius the Great and all, have always sparked my imagination.  I hope one day to visit (soon).

THE BEAUTY OF PERSIAN CUISINE

Persian food is beautifully spiced and rich.  It’s roots are of course ancient and the oldest Iranian cookbook was written in 927  and was called ‘Kār-nāmeh dar bāb-e tabbākhī va sanat-e ān’ or the “Manual on cooking and its craft”.  It offers an exhaustive insight into the complexity and importance of Persian food to the people and the culture.  This amazing food tradition has been passed down through the generations, normally from mother to daughter, meaning that the dishes served in Tehran today will not have varied greatly from the time of the ‘Kar-nameh’.  This all means that Persians take there food very seriously, authenticity is a must.

Persian food is captivating, I love the emphasis on fresh produce, in London I have seen Iranian housewives shopping down at the markets and they only accept the very freshest of ingredients (giving the stall holders plenty of lip if things aren’t up to scratch!)  Persian cuisine uses large amounts of fresh herbs, sometimes it seems they replace the use of vegetables!  Many of the recipes have such a deep rooted tradition, you feel like you are re-creating the dishes of the ancients, in your own kitchen.

A LITTLE HISTORY…….

Persian food has influenced the world of cooking, much more than we know, giving us delights such as ice cream and kebab.  Dare I say it, many of North Indian dishes are heavily derived from Persian cuisine.  In Mughal times especially, Persian cooks were in high demand in the courts of the ruling caste.  These trends filter down into the melting pot of India’s culinary traditions.

The whole vast area of the Middle East has been linked throughout history; cultures mingling and merging throughout the centuries.  Iran is a very fertile land with a wonderful array of produce; pistachios, spices, dried limes, fruits, pomegranate, green herbs, the flavours of rose and saffron, all spring to mind and the colours alone get my imagination flowing.

Persia

TEHRAN VIA LONDON

My first taste of Persia came in a London backstreet, a place where farsi filled the air and a smiling man made fresh flat breads in a stone oven.  The food was so fresh and the flavours striking.  I started to experiment with Iranian cooking and found a whole new range of flavours and ingredients to play with.  Dried limes for example are unique revelation!

Persian food is very traditional and each dish has set rules to follow, not something I am completely comfortable with, but the results are generally outstanding.  My best memories of these Iranian days were the rice (polo) cake that I made.  The sort of dish that is so easy and looks very unique, the rice takes the shape of the the pan and forms a nice golden crust.  You cut into it like a cake!  Served with a delicious Ghormeh Sabzi (Veg and Kidney Bean Stew – Iran’s National Dish) and you have something quite special to enjoy.

Although Persian main dishes revolve around meat and rice, I have found the creative combining of ingredients can easily be related to veggie foods.  There are also many vegan stews, salads etc that are popular in Iran, like this Khoresh Bademjan or Aubergine Stew, which traditionally would have a lump of meat in it.

AUBERGINE – ‘THE POTATO OF IRAN’

Aubergine (Egg plant to some) is a staple in Iran and is even known as the ‘potato of Iran’.  I love making stews, the gentle simmering nature, the way they fill the house with the homely smell of food.  The use of cinnamon here adds such a warming flavour to the dish and the lentils keep nice and firm, giving the stew a very hearty feel.

I know how passionate Iranians are about their food, so I felt it right to seek advice for this recipe and stumbled upon a top Iranian food blogger, Azita at Turmeric and Saffron.  Azita’s recipes are traditional and made with love and care, many handed down from her mother.  This to me is real heart and soul food, cooked with love and care and a cornerstone of family life and culture all over the world.  It is surprising how many of our memories of loved ones revolve around food (or maybe that’s just me!)  I have changed the recipe slightly, but kept the authentic flavours in tact.

Iran is such a vast and fascinating land, the dishes served will vary greatly in different regions, I’ll just have to go for a visit and try them all myself!  Hopefully you’ll see some holiday snaps on the B.H.K soon.  It’s great to be back in the Iranian cooking flow and I hope to be making much more Iranian food.

Salam and Happy CookingX

Yellow split peas

This makes a big pot full, good enough for four hungry mouths.

The Bits

3 large aubergines (peeled, sliced into large chunks and salted with 2 tablespoons of salt)

2 courgettes (chopped into large chunks)

4 medium tomatoes (peeled and chopped)

1 large onion (diced)

4 cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped)

3/4 cup yellow split peas (rinsed)

3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying onions etc

1/2 cup (60ml) oil for frying aubergines

3 tbs tomato puree

3-4 cups of water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste)

1 lime or to taste (juice) or 2-3 tablespoons sour grapes (ghooreh).

Do It

This is Persian food, meaning  a very particular way of preparing the dish.  Well worth the effort!

Leave your aubergines for 30 minutes with salt rubbed into them.  Then place the salted aubergines in a large container filled with water; put a heavy bowl or a heavy lid on top of the eggplants to hold them down for ten minutes, this will get rid of the bitterness. Remove aubergines from container and pat dry completely before frying.  (You can skip this step if you’re pushed for time).

Frying Aubergine

Fry the aubergines in 1/2 cup (60ml) of hot oil until brown on both sides, remove and then add the courgette and fry until golden. Place all on a plate lined with thick kitchen paper to drain some of the excess oil.

Using a knife, mark each tomato with a shallow X at the top, place them in a pot of boiling water for five minutes before pulling off the skin, then chop or slice them thinly or just chop the tomatoes skins on (for the time deprived).

In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add chopped onions, saute until translucent then add the garlic, stir well. Sprinkle in the turmeric, salt and pepper and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Cook until onions begin to caramelise.

Onions and spice – Rather nice!

Add dry split peas, fry for five minutes, this will keep the peas more firm in the khoresh.  Then add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and three cups of water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for an 35 mins on medium heat.

Add the fried aubergine and courgette to the mixture, adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed.

Cook for another 15 minutes, until all is nice and tender.  Add the lime juice or two tablespoons of sour grapes (ghooreh).  Let it sit for 10 minutes off the heat, with the lid on.  This allows the stew to cool a little, flavours can be impaired by really hot food.

Persian Aubergine Stew

Serve

With steaming rice, soya yoghurt (or whipped silken tofu) and a fresh salad shirazi.  This dish may also be served with sour grapes (ghooreh), which you can buy in many world food stores.

We Love It!

Jane and I can sit at our table in the Beach House, up in the clouds, and dream of exotic far off lands and ancient cultures…to the blue mosque of Isfahan and back before dessert…..traveling the world one plate at a time.  This stew is that good!

Foodie Fact

The aubergine (or brinjal or eggplant…) is native to India, this fruit comes in all shapes and sizes and is now grown around the world.  It is very low in calories and contains much soluble fibre.  The skin of aubergine is high in anti-oxidants and it is a good food to help high blood cholesterol and aids metabolism.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: