- 2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
- 1/4 cup (4 tabs) olive oil
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1/2 cup (8 tabs) iced water. Use an ice cube to cool if needed.
- Mix all ingredients together and knead lightly.
- Depending on the temperature and humidity, you may have to add a smidgen more water or flour to get the desired consistency, which should be not sticky but also not too firm. NB: ensure you add a Metric smidgen
- Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 30 minutes or more.
- In the summer time the pastry can lose it’s chill very quickly so if making small pastries, take small amounts out of the fridge at a time to stop it from getting too sticky.
Edamame fritters, dipping sauce
Bean rissoles are stickier; trickier to roll. Dust your palms with flour to stop the mashed beans sticking. You can use boiled and skinned broad beans or crushed tinned haricot but I like the flavour and texture of edamame, which I buy frozen. Whichever beans you use, they will need seasoning with garlic – and herbs such as coriander and chives or, for haricot, finely chopped thyme.
In lieu of a sauce I make a sticky dip, glossy with honey and spiked with ginger and lime juice. The green patties are fried till they have a fragile, golden crust then plunged, hot from the pan, into the dip, as bright and shiny as lip gloss.
Most frozen edamame is already cooked, ready to beat to a cloud of green mash with olive oil or butter or to scatter in a salad of iced noodles, mint and coriander leaves and matchsticks of cucumber.
You could substitute new broad beans for the edamame, but be prepared to pod and skin a lot of beans in order to get 500g. Frozen beans are fine. Cook them in boiling, lightly salted water, then pop them from their pale, papery skins before mashing, seasoning and rolling them.
edamame 500g (podded weight)
garlic 3 cloves
For the dipping sauce:
honey 2 tbsp
soy sauce 2 tbsp
mirin 1 tbsp
rice vinegar 1 tbsp
grated ginger 1 tbsp
groundnut or vegetable oil for shallow frying
Defrost the edamame. Bring a deep saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the edamame and cook for 15-20 minutes till tender, then drain in a colander. Remove the parsley leaves from their stalks. Roughly chop the chives. Peel the garlic. Transfer the edamame to a food processor, add the parsley leaves, the coriander leaves and stems, the chives and garlic and reduce to a thick purée.
Shape the mixture into 16 equally sized balls weighing roughly 40g each, flattening them slightly as you go. Place them on a tray and refrigerate.
Make the dipping sauce. Put the honey, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and grated ginger in a small saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Halve and squeeze the lime and stir the juice into the dipping sauce and set aside.
Warm a thin layer of groundnut or vegetable oil in a pan. Place the fritters in the hot oil and fry gently over a moderate heat, for about 4 or 5 minutes, until the undersides are toasted, then turn and cook the other side.
Serve hot, with the dipping sauce.
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer
Meera Sodha’s buckwheat dosa with coconut chutney and greens.
I don’t go out for Indian food much, but when I do, it is for one of two reasons: exceptional cooking or dosas.
Dosas haven’t historically been a home cook’s friend, and I understand why. Few hungry people can wait a day for the batter to rest. But when buckwheat is introduced, the game changes: suddenly, dosas can be made in a matter of minutes, not days. For that reason, they’ve become one of my favourite reasons to stay in.
This dish consists of three separate elements: the dosa batter, the coconut chutney and the vegetable filling. If you’d rather not tackle all three at the same time, ditch the greens entirely and divide the spiced oil between the chutney mix and the batter instead.
Have faith in the buckwheat dosas, too: the key to success is to make them in a nonstick pan on a very high heat – it needs to be very hot indeed – and make sure you leave them to crisp up properly before even thinking about flipping them with a spatula. The first pancake will inevitably fail – such is the universal law of pancakes – so make it a small one, so as not to waste too much batter.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr
100g desiccated coconut
180g buckwheat flour
6 tbsp oil, plus extra for brushing
12 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 ½ green finger chillies, finely chopped
400g chard, leaves shredded, stalks roughly chopped
200g frozen peas, defrosted
Put the desiccated coconut in a heatproof bowl with a third of a teaspoon of salt, cover with 275ml boiling water and leave to soak.
Meanwhile, put the buckwheat flour in another bowl with half a teaspoon of salt. Slowly pour in 450ml water, mix to a thin batter, then set aside.
Put the oil in a nonstick frying pan and get it really hot, then add the curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds, garlic, ginger and chillies, and fry for two to three minutes, until the garlic turns a pale gold. Carefully tip into a heatproof bowl to cool. Keep the pan for later.
When the spiced oil has cooled, stir two tablespoons of it into both the coconut mix and the batter. Tip the coconut into a blender and blitz until really smooth (add a little more water, if need be).
Reheat the frying pan over a high heat and, when hot, add the rest of the oil and spice mix, followed by the chard stalks. Fry, stirring, for three minutes, then add the leaves and cook until wilted. Throw in the peas, cook for a couple of minutes, until everything is nice and hot, then stir through a couple of tablespoons of the coconut chutney. Scrape out into a serving dish, wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back on the heat.
Once the pan is really hot, brush the surface with a fine layer of oil. Add a small ladleful of batter and swirl it into a thin layer – a few gaps and bubbles are fine, because they can help the dosa get crisp. Cook the dosa for two minutes, until the edges are visibly crisp and browning, then gently lever up with a spatula, flip and cook for a further two minutes on the other side, before turning it out on to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, oiling the pan between each dosa.
Serve the dosas with the greens and remaining chutney on the side.
Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
I’m sure most people have consumed a bowl of “cream of mushroom soup” at some point. In many cases, you may have experienced it straight out of a can – the insipidly pale, gelatinous blob never failing to underwhelm both visually and flavour-wise.
But canned soup aside, I believe that mushrooms have unlimited potential in soups. They have a powerful umami character and a complex flavour profile, which adds richness and dimension to soups.
In this recipe, it was my aim to create a full-bodied soup, with the deepest mushroom flavour possible. A few tricks helped me amplify the mushroomy taste: I cooked the mushrooms first to draw out their flavour before adding the stock; I used a large proportion of mushrooms to liquid; and I added a few cashews into the soup to provide body and creaminess.
The cashew cream is a versatile recipe to add to your repertoire – it adds a lovely sweetness to soup and can also be used as a pasta sauce or dressing for roasted vegetables. The topping is optional, but I love to finish my soups with a special something – in this case, sautéed lemony mushrooms and cashews – to add texture and crunch.
A note about mushrooms: I’ve used Swiss browns, but you could also use shiitake, button or a mix.
Mushroom cashew cream soup
1 cup (150g) cashews soaked in 1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup (185ml) vegetable stock
1 small clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
800g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
½ cup (75g) cashews
6 cups vegetable stock
2 scallions, finely sliced
sea salt and black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
300g mushrooms, sliced
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp cashews
½ tsp Aleppo pepper or red chilli flakes
juice of ½ lemon
For the cashew cream, soak the cashews for at least 30 minutes. When ready, drain the cashews and add them with the vegetable stock, garlic and oil, then blend until smooth and creamy (if it is too thick, you can add a few splashes of water). Season well with sea salt.
Place a pot or large pan on high heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until it is fragrant, and then toss in the mushrooms, along with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms release their liquid, and then add the cashews along with the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Blend until smooth.
Meanwhile, prepare the soup topping by adding a drizzle of oil to a medium frypan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mushrooms are caramelised. Add the cashews, Aleppo, and toss for a minute or so until the nuts are browned. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with sea salt.
To serve, ladle the mushroom soup into bowls, drizzle over some of the cashew cream, add a spoonful of the mushroom topping and finish with a scatter of scallions.
Photograph: Hetty McKinnon/The Guardian
Dried limes are intensely sour and effective at giving dishes a uniquely earthy acidity. They are especially popular in Iran, Iraq, Oman and the Persian Gulf, and they come whole or ground, black or white (they also go by different names such as Omani limes, Iranian limes or noomi basra). Use the black variety here, if you can. I like to serve this dish with steamed white rice or warm flatbreads to scoop everything up.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into thin rounds (use a mandoline, if you have one)
Salt and black pepper
600ml sunflower oil, for frying
2 blocks extra-firm tofu (560g), patted dry and cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp cornflour
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
60ml olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
10g dried black limes (about 2-3), blitzed in a spice grinder to get 2 tbsp
2 tbsp tomato paste
20g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
250g baby spinach
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, the red onion and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, then leave to pickle while you get on with making the rest of the dish.
Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high flame. In a bowl, toss the tofu in the cornflour until well coated. Fry the tofu in two batches, until crisp and lightly browned – about six minutes a batch – then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper, to drain.
While the tofu is frying, make the sauce. Pulse the onion and garlic in a food processor until very finely minced (but not pureed). Put the olive oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned – about seven minutes. Add the cumin, lime powder and tomato paste, cook for a minute, then add 400ml water, the last teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, for six minutes, until thick and rich. Add the tofu, parsley and another grind of pepper, stir to coat, then add the spinach in increments, stirring, until it has just wilted – about three minutes.
Transfer to a shallow platter, top with the pickled onion and serve.
This recipe is from Meera Sodha’s book Fresh India. You’ll need a food processor to grind the walnuts.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30-35 min
Serves 4 as a main
4 medium aubergines (1.2 kg)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1½ tbsp brown rice syrup
¾ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
250ml hot vegetable stock
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and line a large baking tray with lightly oiled foil. In a food processor, blitz the walnuts to a fine crumb.
Cut the aubergines into 5cm x 2cm batons, toss in a bowl with a little oil to coat, season lightly, then transfer to the prepared tray and roast for 25 minutes, until meltingly soft.
While the aubergines are roasting, make the fesenjan sauce. Put three tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat and, once hot, add the onions and fry for 12 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure they don’t catch.
Add the garlic, fry for three minutes, then stir in the brown rice syrup, chilli powder, cinnamon, half a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of ground black pepper, the blitzed walnuts and the pomegranate molasses. Pour in the stock and cook for about eight minutes, until the sauce comes together.
When the aubergines are tender, pour the sauce into a serving dish. Arrange the aubergines on top, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and coriander, and serve with steamed basmati rice.
If I were in charge of brownies and their taxonomy, there would be a proper list of categories. The only thing that unifies them really is the chocolate, beyond which they could be cakey, crumbly, chewy, chocolatey or, er, cocoa-ey. This one is my perfect brownie: dense and fudgy, thanks to the chia seeds; and rich, but not sickeningly so, with a salted caramel-like flavour that comes from using white miso and salt together. It makes this brownie incredibly special. And there is no category for that.
Make sure you use flavourless coconut oil, unless you actually want to add a coconut flavour, and check that the chocolate is suitable for vegans.
Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
4 ½ tbsp milled chia seeds
150g flavourless coconut oil
250g dark chocolate (85%), broken into small pieces
420g light brown muscovado sugar
120g plain flour
3 ½ tbsp white miso (shiro miso)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
Heat the oven to 190c (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, and line a 20cm x 22cm square tin with greaseproof paper. In a small bowl, mix the milled chia seeds with 270ml water and set aside.
Put the coconut oil and broken chocolate into a medium-sized saucepan, and set over a low heat. Stir occasionally until melted, then mix in the sugar, flour and miso, and crumble in the salt flakes. Finally, stir in the soaked and bloomed chia seeds, then pour into the lined tin and gently shake to distribute evenly.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes, then remove. The brownies might still be a bit wobbly in the middle, but they will soon settle down as they cool and be deliciously fudgy. Leave to cool completely, then cut into 16 squares.
Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Katy Gilhooly. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
A splash of vivid orange for the summer BBQ table.
SheWhoMustBeFed came home with a humungous bag of carrots after the organic market where she works closed up for a well deserved Christmas break. Having a distinct shortage of rabbits and horses around the place this necessitated some Invention In The Kitchen of the carroty type.
Thus was created an Oh So Easy To Make, yet Oh So Very Nice To Eat salad that is Oh So Very Orangey.
On the off-chance that you find yourself with a humungous bag of carrots here’s what you can do with them:
- Many carrots, grated
- Many cooked chickpeas (for a kilo of carrots I’d use three tins. Adjust as necessary)
- A bag of slivered almonds
- A clutch of parsley, chopped
- A clutch of fennel fluffy bits, chopped
- A lemon or two, squeezed bereft of their juiciness
- A few cloves of garlic, mashed
- A pour of toasted sesame oil
- Olive oil
- Fry the chickpeas, garlic, salt, and pepper in a generous splash of tamari and (as always) a splash of olive oil. Don’t burn the garlic or you will be asked to sit in the corner wearing a Dummy’s Hat.
- In a saucepan fry the almonds in some more olive oil. Don’t burn the nuts or you will be asked to sit in the corner wearing a Dummy Hat and a set of those Charlie Chaplin eyebrows and mustache things. You’re aiming for a light brown colour – immediately you achieve this remove from heat and drain the oil using a sieve (discard oil).
- Toss together the carrots, fried chickpeas, parsley, fennel, lemon juice, sesame oil, and cooked nuts.
- If making ahead of time don’t add the nuts until just before serving.
On the last Saturday before Christmas She Who Must be Fed worked her last shift for 2018. The shop owners are shuttering for a well earned break for several weeks and so upon closing emptied out the displays and fridges of their remaining organic fruit and veg stock and distributed it to She Who Must’ and her colleagues.
Terrific; two boxes of goodies to tide us through Christmas and New Year!
A tray of stone fruit went to the hungry carolers at the 2018 Bucketty Christmas Carols (RFS fundraiser). Amongst the rest that came home were eight or so apricots. Neither The VegHead or She Who Must’ are overly fond of apricots (though we partook of one each – not bad for an apricot) so the half dozen left after our sampling have been made into an inaugural Spicy apricot Indian Chutney.
This chutney has popped my chutney cherry. A bit of Duck Duck Go interweb trawling gave me the basics and then I ignored most of the specifics of the recipes I had found (as I am wont to do) and just MADE SHIT UP.
What went in (makes a medium jar):
- 6 apricots; destoned and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic; one crushed and the others thinly sliced
- 1 hot birdseye chilli; thinly sliced
- 6 white ends of spring onions; thinly sliced
- 2 thin slices of ginger; finely sliced into strips
- about a heaped TBSP of young, fresh curry leaves (if large ones then chop)
- juice of one lime
- rind of half a lime, thinly sliced
- a pinch each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds; ground in a portar and mestle (What? You don’t have one of these?)
- a generous pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP of palm sugar
- 1 TBSP of panela
- 1 TBSP of coconut oil for frying
- 2/3 cup of water
Taj Mahaling it all together:
- Over a low heat saute the garlic, chilli, spring onions, and ginger until soft
- Add the spices, salt and pepper and give it about another minute
- Add the apricots, water, lime, sugars, and half of the curry leaves
- With the saucepan lidded simmer gently until the liquid is reduced
- Remove from heat, stir in the remaining curry leaves and jar that baby
Serve with something lovely, like these.
These sausage rolls can easily be made gluten free by using appropriate pastry. The mix itself is gluten free without alteration.
For the putting in
- 600g cooked chickpeas
- ½ cup finely chopped (bamixed) mixed, roasted nuts
- 2 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp chilli powder – to taste
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tbsp tomata paste
- Generous splash of tamari
- pre-rolled puff pastry (use gluten free pastry if needed)
- ½ cup soy yoghurt, diluted (to brush pastry)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, to decorate
For the putting together
In a small pan, saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and saute for four to five minutes more to soften the garlic and ginger.
Meanwhile, gently toast the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds in the oven until they smell fragrant, then add in with the nuts and bamix (using the dry foods thingy).
Using a slicing blade in a food processor roughly cut the chickpeas.
Into the onions stir in the tomato puree, tamari, salt, papper, and chopped chickpeas. Continue to cook on a low heat to reduce liquid, stirring occasionally.
If you are going to cook the sausage rolls right away, heat the oven to 180C.
Once the chickpea mix is fairly dry remove from heat and thoroughly mix with the chopped nuts. Allow to cool until it can be handled.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, put on a floured surface and cut in half lengthways. Divide the mix in half and roll into two long sausages. Put a sausage along the length of each pastry and brush the long edges with the yoghurt wash. Roll the pastries around the mix and press the pastry together where it meets, using a fork to crimp the edges. Brush all over with yoghurt wash, sprinkle with fennel seeds and cut into mini rolls about an inch thick – any thinner and they will fall over in the oven. At this stage, you can freeze them, separating the layers with parchment paper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden, and serve with a spicy tomato marmalade, Indian chutney.
If the mix is to be used later, refridgerate in a lidded container.
Serve with a jolly nice chutney.
This is freaking yummy and a proper, grown-up feed for people who like their veggies exuberant and full of ﬂavour. The puree is a vegan miracle, and I was tempted to keep it secret because, well, it’s nice to have secrets, especially nutty ones. The marriage of the puree and the broccoli is just joy and you’ll ﬁnd when you serve this that people start tentatively, then keep coming back for more.
serves 6 as a side
- 550g broccoli, cut into medium florets
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 60g walnuts
- 400g tinned cannellini (lima) beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- juice of half a lemon
- small pinch of salt
- 11/2 tbsp best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 60ml water, plus extra if necessary
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Add the broccoli florets and lemon zest to a large bowl, drizzle over the oil and toss together to coat. Spread the florets out on two baking trays and sprinkle lightly with salt, then pop them in the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes until looking lovely and golden with a tiny char on each little tree.
While the broccoli is cooking, make a start on the miracle puree. Refresh the walnuts by popping them on a separate tray and toasting them in the oven for 4 minutes. (A timer is crucial here or you’ll forget them.)
Tip the cannellini beans into the food processor together with the walnuts and all the other puree ingredients. Whizz together to the consistency of Greek-style yoghurt – if it’s too thick, add an extra 2–3 tablespoons warm water and blend again.
When ready to serve, spread the puree out over a brightly coloured platter and top with the roasted broccoli. Enjoy.
Photograph: Chris Chen/Hardie Grant Books
This is an edited extract from Zero F*cks Cooking: Endless Summer by Yumi Stynes
Beans walk a fine line between being perfectly crisp-tender and overcooked, so watch your beans like a hawk and taste constantly as you cook. The moment they are just tender enough, with a slight sweetness, take them off the heat (if you are steaming them, a bowl filled with ice water is useful to stop the cooking).
This recipe is a wonderful weeknight dish eaten on its own, but it can also be served with pasta, grains or couscous to add extra heartiness. Top with (vegan) cheese or pine nuts. These beans also may be made ahead of time and eaten at room temperature.
- 500g green beans (or a mix of varieties), trimmed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 400g mixed tomatoes
- ½ cup (100g) black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
- ½ – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to serve
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- Handful parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Sea salt and black pepper
Heat the barbecue, grill pan or wok on high heat.
Slice larger beans diagonally, and leave the smaller ones whole. Place the beans in a large bowl, drizzle over some olive oil and season with sea salt. Transfer the beans to the hot barbecue (or pan/wok) and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once, until the beans have a nice char and are crisp-tender. Remove immediately and lay out on a large plate or board to cool down (don’t pile them on top of each other as the heat makes them discolour).
Leave the barbecue or grill pan on high heat. Prepare your tomatoes by cutting larger ones (like plum or beefsteak) in half or into quarters; leave smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, whole. Place your tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle over some olive oil and season with sea salt. Toss to combine and add to the hot plate of your barbecue (or into your hot pan/wok). Blister for 5-7 minutes, until soft, charred and just about to burst. Carefully remove immediately and place in a bowl.
To make the puttanesca sauce, add the olives, capers, red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar to the bowl with the charred tomatoes, and stir. Drizzle with a 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season with pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
To serve, combine the beans with the chickpeas. Spoon over the puttanesca sauce and scatter with parsley.
Photograph: Hetty McKinnon
What do you get when you blend a blob of homemade cashew cheese, about a nob of black garlic cloves, black tahini, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper?
A spreadable, moreish thingy that looks like meconium but tastes seriously yummy.
- a large round of homemade cashew cheese
- a tub of aged, black garlic
- half a dozen (pitted) olives
- about half a cup of black tahini
- a drizzle of olive oil
- about half a teaspoon of ground pepper
- about half a teaspoon of salt
Keep blending until thoroughly mixed to an even colour. Scrape down the sides of the blender bowl half way through to ensure that all the cheesy bits are mixed in.
Serve as a thick dip (with stout crackers) or spread on crackers.
NOTE: To make cashew cheese follow this recipe, substituting your nuts as appropriate.
A simple, crunchy and sharp pickled salad to balance the richness of all the protein and carbs. Chinkiang vinegar is a rice-based black vinegar that you’ll find in any good Asian supermarket. It has a very particular taste that’s both acidic and umami all at once. If you can’t find it, use rice-wine vinegar with a touch of soy mixed in instead, though that would mean the dish is no longer gluten-free.
Prep 10 min
Marinate 2 hr 20 min
Cook 5 min
2 large cucumbers, cut in half lengthways, watery centres scraped out and discarded
Flaked sea salt
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar, or normal rice-wine vinegar with a touch of soy sauce
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander leaves
Cut the cucumber into roughly 1.5cm chunks. Add to a bowl with two teaspoons of flaked salt, stir and set aside for 20 minutes. Strain, discarding any liquid, then return the cucumber to the bowl with the garlic, lime, vinegar and two-thirds each of the ginger and spring onions. Leave to marinate for two hours. To serve, toss through the coriander and the remaining ginger and spring onions, and sprinkle over a quarter-teaspoon more salt.
Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian
Potato gratin with coconut, chilli and lime
If you’re making the whole of today’s Christmas spread in one oven, bake the gratin ahead of time and reheat in a very hot oven just before serving. Top with the aromatics and zest just as you serve, and not before.
Prep 25 min
Cook 110 min
5 banana shallots, peeled and cut into 5mm-thick slices
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
Flaked sea salt and black pepper
1.4kg slightly waxy potatoes (I used yukon gold), skin on, cut into 5mm-thick slices (use a mandoline, ideally)
100g coconut cream, gently melted until liquid
3 limes – zest finely grated, to get 1½ tsp, then juiced, to get 60ml
200ml vegetable stock
For the aromatics
150ml olive oil
2 red chillies, finely sliced into rings
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced (on a mandoline, ideally)
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely cut into julienne strips
5 spring onions, green ends finely sliced at an angle
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the shallots, garlic, oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a 28cm ovenproof saute pan on a medium heat. Fry for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and deeply golden, then tip into a large bowl. Keep the pan to be used again (no need to clean it).
Put the potatoes, coconut cream, lime juice, two teaspoons of salt and plenty of pepper in with the shallots and mix very gently, taking care not to break up the potato slices. Lay a quarter of this mixture in the saute pan – use any smaller or broken slices of potato at this stage, and save the larger, whole slices for the top – and spread out in an even layer. Lay the remaining potato mixture in a spiral on top of this base layer, with each slice at an angle and overlapping the next. Pour on the stock, cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the aromatics. Heat the oil in a medium pan on a medium flame, then gently fry the chilli, garlic and ginger for five minutes, stirring once in a while, until the garlic is just starting to turn golden. Add the spring onions, fry for two minutes more, until the garlic is a light golden brown and the chilli aromatic, then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, to stop them cooking further; reserve the aromatic oil.
Remove the gratin from the oven and discard the foil. Drizzle 60ml aromatic oil evenly over the top, then return to the oven uncovered and bake for 50 minutes more. Turn up the heat to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 for the last five minutes, until the top is golden brown and crisp.
Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, top with the fried aromatics, lime zest and a generous pinch of flaked salt, and take to the table.
Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian
Aquafaba mayo is easy to make and a delicious way to use up a byproduct that would otherwise be wasted. The quality of the oil is important, because it will be the main flavour of the mayonnaise.
50ml bean water
1 tbsp mustard
Salt and black pepper
About 200ml olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar – cider, white-wine or other
Put the aquafaba, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper in a clean, grease-free bowl. Blend with a hand-mixer (or put everything in a blender) until combined and frothy, then pour in the oil in a very slow, steady stream, blending as you go. Once the consistency is as you like, stop adding the oil and blend in the vinegar and garlic, if using.
Freekeh is notorious for taking longer to cook than it says on the packet, so if time is of the essence choose cracked freekeh, which cooks more quickly and actually absorbs more flavours.
Personally, I prefer the wholegrain, but it takes more than twice as long to cook and requires a lot more water or stock. But then, it gives you time to properly hang the yoghurt to drain and become labne, rather than using the cheat’s method in the tips below. Always a bright side.
200g natural pot-set yoghurt
2 eggplants, chopped into 2cm pieces
60ml (1⁄4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
200g cracked freekeh
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1⁄2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sea salt
4 spring onions, white and dark green parts finely chopped
seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, half the leaves finely chopped, the rest left whole
1⁄2 bunch mint, larger leaves finely chopped, smaller leaves left whole
2 tbsp raw pistachio kernels, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp tahini
juice of 1⁄2 lemon, plus extra wedges
40g (1⁄4 cup) sunflower seeds
1 tsp sumac (or use lemon zest if you can’t find this ground lemony berry)
4cm knob of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
juice of 1 lemon
juice and finely grated zest of 1⁄2 orange
1-1⁄2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Start making the labne the day before you want to eat the salad. Line a fine sieve with a double layer of muslin or a Chux and place over a bowl. Spoon the yoghurt into the muslin or Chux and tie the corners to enclose. Place in the fridge to drain overnight.
Preheat the oven to 210C/190C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Spread the eggplant over the prepared tray, drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the cumin. Toss to combine. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Meanwhile, place the freekeh in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt and 580ml (2-1⁄3 cups) water.
Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 12–15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the freekeh is tender. Spread out over a large baking tray and let it cool slightly. Amazingly, this will give you just enough time to make the dressing!
To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl, seasoning with the salt and pepper.
Place the warm freekeh in a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Set aside to cool completely.
Add the eggplant, spring onion, pomegranate seeds, chopped parsley and mint and pistachios to the cooled freekeh and toss lightly to combine. Season.
Place the freekeh salad on a serving platter and sprinkle over the sunflower seeds. Top with dollops of the labne mixture, then sprinkle sumac over the labne. Garnish with the remaining mint and parsley leaves and serve with lemon wedges.
To make speedy cheat’s labne, you simply need to squeeze out the whey from the yoghurt. The easiest way to do this quickly is to place the yoghurt in a clean piece of doubled-up muslin or a Chux, twist up the edges and squeeze against paper towel to wring out the whey. When it comes to mixing in the tahini, be sparing when adding the water as this version leaves a wetter labne.
Serve this splendid vegan curry with rice or naan depending on personal preference, and a dollop of dairy-free yoghurt.
Prep 20 min
Cook 75 min
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
40g cashew nuts
20g blanched almonds
120ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, shells discarded, seeds roughly crushed in a mortar
2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
2 tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
¾ tsp ground turmeric
2 tomatoes, grated and skins discarded (180g net weight)
1 large cauliflower, cut into large florets (750g net weight)
15g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
250g extra-firm tofu, crumbled into medium chunks
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/425F/gas 9. In a small bowl, mix the red onion, a tablespoon of lemon juice and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.
Put the cashews and almonds in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, simmer for 20 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, heat one and a half tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the onion, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until soft and well browned. Transfer to a blender, add the nuts and 200ml water, and blend for two minutes, until very smooth.
Heat another tablespoon and a half of oil in the same pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for a minute. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander seeds, and half a teaspoon of turmeric, and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the tomatoes, cook for four minutes, until thickened, then add the onion and nut mixture, 500ml water, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to medium and leave to cook for 20 minutes, until reduced by a third.
In a bowl, mix the cauliflower with the remaining quarter-teaspoon of turmeric, three tablespoons of oil, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread out on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and roast for 18 minutes, until cooked through and coloured. Stir into the sauce, add two-thirds of the coriander and the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, and leave to simmer for five minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a medium saute pan on a high flame. Add the tofu, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp – about eight minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining teaspoon each of cumin and coriander seeds, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir half of this mixture into the cauliflower, and reserve the rest.
Transfer the korma to a shallow serving bowl, top with the pickled red onion, followed by the remaining tofu and coriander, and serve.
Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.
Striving for simplicity in weeknight cooking doesn’t have to mean simple flavours. For me, every meal must count and every dish must deliver on taste and heart. This recipe shows how one humble ingredient, carrots, can spearhead an easy-to-prepare, flavour-bursting dish.
Using carrots from top to tail reduces waste and also challenges our taste buds. Carrot tops are herbaceous and earthy, with just a hint of carrot flavour, and add a surprising herbal accent to salads and sauces like pesto and hummus. For dinner prep, a bunch of carrots can go a long way.
The lush green flavour of carrot tops makes them the perfect addition to chimichurri. On a recent trip to Argentina, upon busy tables replete with carne asada (grilled beef), Malbec wine and oversized Coke bottles (an Argentinian tradition, I’m told), I salivated over the jars of chimichurri, herbier and heavier than usual. Dramatically tinged with paprika, and embellished with chunky chopped herbs and tiny specks of tomato, this Argentinian version of the sauce brought an exciting brightness to my plate of vegetables. In my twist-on-chimichurri recipe below, carrot tops are a lively replacement for the more traditional parsley.
This dish of roasted baby carrots with carrot top chimichurri, served on a bed of smashed white beans, comes together in about 30 minutes, and effortlessly shows off the flavour possibilities of simple ingredients. The recipe comfortably serves two, but if you are cooking for more, just up your carrot and bean count. No need to increase the amount of ingredients for chimichurri, as this recipe makes about one cup, more than enough for extra mouths. Keep extra chimichurri in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 14 days. The chimichurri can also be made ahead to allow the flavours to meld.
Roasted baby carrots with carrot top chimichurri and smashed white beans
Serves 2, or more if eaten as a snack
1 bunch baby (Dutch) carrots, trimmed and tops reserved
extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 can cannellini beans, drained (drained weight 280g)
1 tsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar
handful of slivered almonds
sea salt and black pepper
Carrot top chimichurri (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup finely chopped carrot greens
1 tbsp finely chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
¾ cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Scrub the carrots well and pat dry. Lay them out on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender and golden (this time may vary depending on the size of your carrots).
To make your chimichurri, place the chopped carrot tops in a small bowl. Add the oregano, tomato, garlic, cumin, both paprikas, chilli flakes, olive oil and vinegar. Stir to combine. Season well with 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt and a good turn of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
For the smashed beans, place a small clove of garlic in a mortar, sprinkle with some sea salt and pound it into a paste. Add the beans and pound until half of them are broken up but the consistency is still chunky. Stir through 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or more), and season with sea salt and black pepper.
To serve, place the smashed beans on to a plate and top with the roasted carrots. Spoon over some of the chimichurri and scatter with slivered almonds.
Traditional Mexican fried bread topped with beery beans and avocado cream
The world over, people make delicious things you can eat with your hands, and one of my favourites is the Mexican gordita – ‘chubby’ in Spanish . It is traditionally made with masa dough, but I have used more readily available cornmeal and topped it with beer-infused beans, beetroot pickles and a sprightly avocado cream.
There are four elements to this dish, but don’t let that put you off. The pickles and avocado cream are fairly quick to make and both those and the beans can be made in advance.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
For the drunken beans
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 medium jalapeño, deseeded and finely chopped
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp hot smoky paprika
2 x 400g tins pinto beans, drained
330ml pale ale or dark beer suitable for vegans
For the pickles
250g or 2 medium beetroots, peeled and grated
¼ or 150g red cabbage, finely sliced
100ml apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
For the avocado cream
2 small ripe avocados
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
For the gorditas
150g fine cornmeal
150g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Heat the olive oil for the beans in a medium-sized pan over a low heat and, when hot, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for eight minutes, until translucent and starting to caramelise, then add the jalapeño, salt, oregano and paprika. Stir to coat the onions, then cook for four minutes to soften the jalapeño. Add the beans to the pan, stir to combine, then increase the heat to high and add the beer. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickles and the avocado cream. For the pickles, combine the beetroot and sliced cabbage in a small mixing bowl and add the vinegar and salt. Mix well so that everything is coated, and leave to pickle for 30 minutes.
For the avocado cream, combine the avocado flesh, vinegar, oil and salt in a blender, and blitz for one or two minutes until completely smooth. Depending on the ripeness of your avocado, you might need to add a teaspoon or two of water to get a silky mayonnaise like texture.
Finally, the gorditas. Mix the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the water a little at a time, using a spoon to bring the dough together each time. Once all the water is added, bring the dough together with your hands, knead into a smooth ball and rest for two minutes. Divide the dough into 12 even balls, each weighing around 50g, and roll each out on a lightly floured surface until you have a pleasingly chubby disc of dough roughly 5mm thick.
Fry the gorditas in batches in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat – two or three to the pan at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Fry the gorditas for two minutes a side, until crisp on the outside with no dark doughy spots. To serve, top each gordita with a spoonful of beans, some avocado cream and a pinch or two of pickles.
Bulgur with tomato, aubergine and preserved lemon yoghurt
Just look at all the pantry staples made with tomatoes – tinned, paste, passata, sun-dried and more – each a variation on the bright-red theme. It’s that desire to capture summer in a jar, tin or tube that provides cooks with some of their snappiest tools for layering tomatoey flavours. Yes, there’s nothing quite as glorious as a perfectly ripe, raw tomato, but in cooking, adding all its derivatives into the mix opens up a world of creatively fine-tuning sweetness, acidity and freshness.
This is made of three components – roasted aubergine, bulgur with tomato, and yoghurt sauce – all of which adorable on their own. Together, however, they make a truly memorable main.
Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4 as a main (It also works as a side dish, in which case these quantities will serve six to eight.)
2 large aubergines (500g net weight), cut into 3cm chunks
100ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground allspice
400g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g bulgur wheat
1 small preserved lemon, pips discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped
10g mint leaves (about 1 tbsp) finely shredded
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Put the aubergine in a large bowl with four tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring once halfway, until the aubergines are caramelised and soft. Take out of the oven and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, put three tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan for which you have a lid and heat on a medium-high flame. Once hot, fry the onion for eight minutes, stirring a few times, until caramelised and soft. Add the garlic and allspice, fry for a minute, stirring continuously, until the garlic is aromatic and starting to brown, then add the cherry tomatoes, mashing them with a potato masher to break them up. Stir in the tomato paste, 400ml water and a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Add the bulgur, stirring it in so it’s completely coated, then turn off the heat and set aside for 20 minutes, so the bulgur can absorb all the liquid.
In a medium bowl, mix the yoghurt with the preserved lemon, half the mint and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.
Divide the bulgur between four plates and serve with the yoghurt and aubergine alongside and a sprinkling of the remaining mint.
Green bean tahini casserole with lentils and crispy turmeric shallots
100g (1⁄2 cup) puy lentils, rinsed (changed from black lentils in original)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1kg green beans, trimmed and halved
250g fresh shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped or sliced
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
90g (1⁄3 cup) tahini
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
Handful of chopped chives
Sea salt and black pepper
Crispy turmeric shallots
2 French shallots, finely sliced into rounds
2 tbsp rice flour
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
125ml (1⁄2 cup) sunflower or other high-temperature oil, plus extra if needed
Sea salt and black pepper
Shiitake mushrooms: button or Swiss brown mushrooms
French shallots: small red onions
Rice flour: plain flour
Preheat the oven to 190C. Oil a large baking or gratin dish.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the lentils, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, make the crispy turmeric shallots. Toss the shallot rounds together with the rice flour, turmeric and a pinch of salt and pepper, using your hands to break up the rings so that they are evenly coated.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan until very hot (test with a wooden chopstick or wooden spoon; if it sizzles, the oil is ready). Add the shallot rings to the oil a handful at a time and fry until golden brown. When ready, place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and immediately sprinkle with some sea salt. Repeat until all the shallot rings are cooked. Allow to cool.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the beans. Season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for 5–7 minutes, until the beans are tender and turning golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add another drizzle of oil along with the mushrooms and thyme and cook until the mushrooms have turned golden. Remove from the heat.
Place the tahini in a small bowl, add the lemon juice, garlic and chives
and slowly whisk in cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of thickened cream. Season with sea salt and lots of black pepper.
Combine the beans with the mushrooms, lentils and tahini sauce. Transfer to the baking dish and bake for 10-12 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven, top with the crispy turmeric shallots and return to the oven for another five minutes. Serve immediately.
The crispy turmeric shallots can be made up to a day ahead. If you are short on time, buy ready-made crispy fried shallots from your Asian grocery store or supermarket.
The green bean casserole can be made the day ahead and topped and baked with the onions just before eating.
Other high-temperature oils include peanut or rice bran.
Great on crumpets or toast with (vegan) cheese but it also works just as well next to a dal or curry.
Prep 10 min
Macerate 2 hr
Cook 20 min
1 tbsp coriander seeds
500g carrots, peeled and grated
1 small thumb fresh ginger, grated
200g caster sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp runny honey
100ml white wine vinegar
Bash the coriander seeds in a mortar and tip into a bowl; add the grated carrots, ginger, sugar and zests, and put into the fridge to macerate for at least two hours to draw out the liquid.
When the carrots are done, mix the honey, citrus juices and vinegar with half a teaspoon of salt in a large heavy-based pan, and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Tip in the carrot mixture and slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the carrots and ginger are tender. Turn the heat up and boil until almost all the liquid has evaporated. You will need to stir it towards the end to make sure it doesn’t stick.
Spoon into warm sterilised jars. It will keep for 18 months but, once opened, store it in the fridge and eat within a month.
Wet your hands to shape the cakes, otherwise things will get very sticky. You can shape them ahead of time and fry at the last minute, if you prefer. And simply omit the chilli from the dipping sauce to make this child-friendly.
Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
300g sushi rice
60ml rice vinegar
2½ tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp sesame oil
For the dipping sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp groundnut oil
½ small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
Put the rice in a large bowl of cold water and stir with your hands for 10 seconds, to help release the starch. Drain into a large sieve, refresh under cold running water, then return the rice to the bowl. Cover again with cold water and repeat the stirring and draining procedure four or five times, until the water in the bowl is almost clear. Return the drained rice to the bowl, cover with fresh water, leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain one final time.
Put the drained rice in a medium saucepan, pour on 360ml cold water, cover the pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, without lifting the lid or stirring. Turn off the heat and leave the rice, still covered, to rest for 10 minutes.
Put the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Heat gently, just until the sugar dissolves, then pour all over the rice.
Sprinkle the cornflour over the rice and then, using a spatula, very carefully stir the rice, so it’s all coated. Cover the pan again and leave to sit for 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients.
When you’re ready to shape the cakes, wet your hands and have ready a damp plate to put the cakes on. Take about 100g of the rice mix and form into a roughly 4cm-wide x 2cm-thick cake. Put on the damp plate and repeat with the remaining rice, wetting your hands again between forming each cake. You should end up with 16 cakes.
Put half the groundnut oil and half the sesame oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, carefully lay in half the rice cakes and fry for two to three minutes, until the base is golden brown – don’t be tempted to turn them over before they reach this stage, or they may fall apart. Carefully turn each cake, fry for two to three minutes more, then transfer to the damp plate with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and rice cakes, then serve warm with the dipping sauce.
You can play around with the veg in these, swapping carrots, pumpkin or butternut squash for the potatoes, if you like. Whatever you use, though, don’t leave the fritter mix sitting around for too long once it’s made, otherwise it will go soggy. These are best eaten straight after baking, but they are also good warmed up in a low oven a few hours later, or even the next day.
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
30g black quinoa
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated to get 250g
2 small baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated to get 250g
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
25g picked coriander leaves, roughly chopped
75g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and black pepper
400ml sunflower oil
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
Cook the quinoa in plenty of boiling water for 10 minutes, until it is cooked but still has bite. Leave to drain in a sieve, then pat dry to remove as much liquid as possible.
Put both potatoes, the onion, coriander and quinoa in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together both flours, the spices, a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt and a good grind of pepper. Slowly whisk in 100ml cold water, until you have a smooth batter.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high flame.
Tip the batter into the vegetable bowl and mix together well. Using your hands, form the fritter mix into golf ball-sized portions weighing about 50g each, squeezing them very tightly to compact them and extract most of the liquid. Cook the fritters in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan: carefully drop three or four balls into the hot oil and fry for about four minutes in total, turning them once halfway, until golden-brown and cooked through, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper (if the fritters start browning too quickly, adjust the temperature of the oil as you go). Serve hot with the lime wedges alongside.
Alas the only picture of this dish would be of two empty plates smeared with sauce and watched over by two burping, sated diners. It looks nice and it tastes great and if you want to see what it looks like then get off the computer and get into the kitchen. Now dammit!
This needs to be baked in a lidded dish large enough to lay out the pasta at the bottom of the dish. Assume 6 pieces of pasta for each person and test the dish size by laying out the right amount of pasta straight from the packet.
Ingredients (Serves two as a main meal)
- 1 tin chick peas (or approx 2.5 cups of home cooked chickpeas)
- 1 tin tomatoes
- Lumaconi pasta or other large pasta that can be stuffed. About 6 pieces each
- 1 large carrot, grated
- half a cup of celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large zuchinni
- 1 medium onion, crushed (put it through the garlic press. WARNING – onion juice squirted in your eye hurts)
- 3 to 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbl spn light miso
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 to 2 cups of water or stock
- olive oil
- 1 tspn paprika
- 1/2 tspn smoked paprika
- 1/2 tspn cumin
- 1/2 tspn cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- cracked pepper
- tamari sauce
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves
- Lightly saute the chickpeas in a closed saucepan with a splash of olive oil with the garlic, onion, paprikas, cumin, and cayenne. Take off the heat and mash. Add a generous splash of tamari and the carrot, mix thoroughly and set aside until cool enough to handle the mix
- While the chickpea mix is cooling pour a generous splash of olive oil in the bottom of the baking dish. Put the oven on to warm. Chop the eggplant and zuchinni into large chunks. Chop the celery and the herbs, have a glass of wine, go feed a bird some seeds and whistle to them a bit. They’ll think you’re mad and pity you for not having wings but the gift of some seed to eat will see you good.
- Stuff the Lumaconi pasta with the chickpea mix and lay out the pasta at the bottom of the oiled baking dish. If there is any mix remaining just add to the dish.
- Top the pasta with the chopped herbs and the bay leaves
- Add the zuchinni, eggplant, and chopped celery. Add the miso and a generous grind of pepper
- Cover with the tomatoes
- Add the wine and water/stock
- Bake covered in a prewarmed medium oven for about an hour. Check about the 40 minute mark to make sure it is not drying out. If so add more water/stock.
The dressing for this first course or light lunch is a salsa verde, a piquant herb and citrus sauce that works well with the sweet caramelised vegetables.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
2 large carrots (400g), peeled and cut into thin batons
2 fennel bulbs (500g), thinly sliced and fronds reserved
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tsp chilli flakes
125g mung beans
125g giant couscous
For the dressing
10g dill leaves
30g parsley leaves
10g fresh mint leaves
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6 and line two baking trays with foil.
Lay the carrots, fennel and garlic cloves in a single layer across the two trays. Mix four tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and the chilli flakes in a small bowl, spoon over the vegetables, then toss with your hands to make sure everything is well coated. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing the vegetables halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.
In the meantime, put the mung beans in a pan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the couscous to the pot, turn up the heat and boil for six to eight minutes, until tender, then drain.
To make the dressing, finely chop the herbs and fennel tops, put in a bowl and add the chopped flesh of the roast garlic, the lemon juice, capers, mustard and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Add enough olive oil to make a dressing (roughly three to five tablespoons), mix very well, then taste and adjust as you see fit.
To assemble the salad, spoon the mung beans and couscous on to a serving plate, lay the vegetables on top, then mix in the green herb dressing to taste and serve.
A very hearty tomato stew, thickened by cashew cream. Is it Stroganoff? Strictly not of course, but then again sometimes a close brush with reality is all we need to anchor ourselves to the thin crust of sanity.
The day this dish entered our damaged and seemingly deranged world the overnight air had frozen the heavy dew on the roof at Ridgesong and long, thin tongues of ice slid off the eves as the morning sun broke weakly threw the heavy mist. Brrr….. At that, my little lovely, is what a fire is for!
Serve with Garlic Bread. Enough for two for a hearty stomach full.
- 2 medium courgettes
- 1 medium aubergine
- a fistful of green beans
- 1 small onion
- lashes of garlic
- 1 tin tomatoes, or equivalent of fresh
- 1 medium red capsicum (roasted)
- a BIG dab of sweet miso
- some white wine
- about 1/2 litre of stock
- 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least four hours in a cup of boiled water
- 1 cup of chickpeas
- lots of rosemary from the garden, chopped
- lots of parsley from the garden, chopped
- 2 to 3 tspns of hot cayenne
- 4 to 5 tspns of sweet paprika
- 1 tspn of smoked paprika
- 1 tspn of ground black pepper
- 1 tspn of ground cumin
- a generous pour of olive oil
- wizz the cashews with the liquid to cashew cream and reserve
- Barmix the onion, garlic, tomatoes, capsicum, miso, and wine. Use some of the stock too if needed
- chop the aubergine, courgette, and beans into big chunks
- lightly saute the spices to release the flavours
- add the vegetables, chickpeas, herbs, wine, stock, and sauce
- simmer for hours on a low heat (preferably on top of the lovely warm fireplace). The vegetables should be well cooked but not mushed
- stir through the cashew cream
- serve with garlic bread and red wine
This needs to be dished up the moment its made, before the courgettes start ‘weeping’ and losing their freshness, so don’t let it sit around for too long. It goes well with hot food fresh from the grill or alongside a bunch of meze.
Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
3 tbsp olive oil
10g thyme sprigs
1 lemon – peel finely shaved into 6 strips (avoid the bitter white pith), then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
1 garlic clove, smashed with the flat side of a knife
600g courgettes (a mix of green and yellow looks great, if you can find both), trimmed and shaved into long, thin ribbons with a potato peeler or mandoline
60g walnut halves, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
15g basil, roughly shredded
Put the oil, thyme, lemon peel and garlic in a small saucepan on a low heat and leave to infuse for eight minutes, until the oil becomes aromatic and the garlic, lemon and thyme start to colour. Take off the heat, leave to cool, then strain the oil into a large bowl. Pick the leaves off the sprigs and add to the oil; discard the sprigs, lemon and garlic.
Put the courgettes, walnuts, lemon juice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper into the oil, then massage the courgettes for a minute or so – they will break up a little – then stir in the basil and serve at once.
Each of these easy dips use tinned pulses as a base. They all follow the same formula: once you get the hang of the ratios, you can experiment and try different flavour combinations. They each follow the same basic method.
Prep 20 min
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
Garlic: 1 small clove
Tahini: 1 tbsp
Citrus: Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 100ml ice water
Top with: olive oil, toasted and bashed coriander seeds, lemon zest, pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes)
Black bean and cumin hummus
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin black beans
Garlic: 1 small clove
Tahini: 1 tbsp black tahini
Citrus: Juice of 2 limes
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 200ml ice water
Top with: black sesame seeds, toasted cumin seeds
Summer herbs butterbean dip
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin butter beans
Garlic: ½ small clove
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 150ml ice water
Citrus: Juice of 1 lemon
Top with: more herbs, olive oil
Pink cannellini and beetroot dip
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans
Garlic: 1 small clove
Liquid: 200g cooked beetroot, drained and pureed
Tahini: 1 tbsp
Citrus: Juice of ½ lemon and ½ orange
Liquid: 200g cooked beetroot, drained and pureed
Top with: orange and lemon zest, sliced radishes
Put the drained tin of pulses, garlic, tahini (if using) and citrus juice and zest (if using) into a food processor and blitz smooth, adding the oil/water/beetroot bit by bit until you have a creamy dip. Add your toppings, then serve with raw vegetables, crackers and flatbread for dipping.
A salad that travels well and is more than a sum of its parts. Rice, quinoa or normal couscous can be used in place of the giant couscous if you like.
Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
100g raisins or currants
4 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 x 400g tin cooked puy lentils, drained, or 250g home-cooked
150g wholemeal giant couscous
4 sticks celery, finely chopped, any leaves reserved
1 large bunch each parsley and coriander, leaves picked
For the dressing
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods or ¼ tsp ground cardamom
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed limes
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Soak the raisins in the vinegar and leave to one side.
If you are cooking your lentils yourself, then cook in boiling water for 20-30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Cook the giant couscous in boiling salted water according to packet instructions, then drain well.
Make the dressing. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes, until they smell fragrant. Add the ground spices, stir quickly, then take the pan off the heat and tip the lot into a mortar. Bash with the pestle until they are broken down a bit. Tip into a jam jar, add all the rest of the dressing ingredients and shake to mix well.
Drain the lentils and put in a large bowl with the couscous, chopped celery and dressing. Roughly chop most of the herbs on a board, drain the raisins and add to the pile of herbs, chop the lot together, then add to the lentils. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and taste, adding more salt, pepper, lime and oil as needed. Remember, it will mellow a little as it sits. When you are ready to eat, scatter over the rest of the herbs and any celery leaves, and pile into bowls.
Great on a sandwich and also work in a salad or as antipasti. If you have any of the aromatic oil left over, it’s great on pasta and salad.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
1 medium fennel bulb
200ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
240g baby aubergines, trimmed and quartered (or 1 regular aubergine, cut into 10cm x 2cm wedges)
5 multicoloured Romano peppers
2 large mild red chillies
1 garlic bulb, top fifth trimmed to expose the bulbs
1 lemon – skin finely shaved of in 6 strips, then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
2-3 spring onions, finely sliced
5g dill, roughly chopped
½ tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
½ tbsp pink peppercorns, toasted and crushed
Heat the grill to its highest setting and put a rack at the top of the oven. Cut the fennel in half lengthways and then into 1.5cm-thick batons, keeping some base attached, so the pieces hold together. Gently toss the fennel in a teaspoon of oil and a good pinch of salt, then lay out on a large oven tray.
Toss the aubergines in a teaspoon of oil and a good pinch of salt, and lay cut side up on the same tray. Grill for 12 minutes, until well charred, then transfer the aubergines to a large bowl. Turn over the fennel pieces, grill for another six minutes, then add to the aubergine bowl.
Turn off the grill and set the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Put the peppers and chillies on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle a little oil over the garlic bulb, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then wrap tightly in foil and add to the pepper tray. Roast for 25 minutes, turning halfway, until the peppers are blackening on both sides. Remove the peppers and chillies, and roast the garlic for 10 minutes more.
Put the peppers and chillies in a bowl, cover tightly with clingfilm, leave for 30 minutes, then peel off the skin, discarding the seeds, stalks and any liquid. Tear the peppers into 8cm strips, roughly chop the chillies and put both in the fennel bowl.
When cool enough to handle, unwrap the garlic and squeeze out the flesh into the fennel bowl. Add the remaining oil, the last six ingredients, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix gently to coat. Ideally, leave .
This is just as good eaten at room temperature as it is warm. It’s an ideal portable meal, because it can be made well in advance, it’s easy to transport and it will keep for hours.
Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
250g giant couscous
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
½ tbsp olive oil
50g golden (or normal) raisins (or replace with chopped dates)
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar
60g flaked almonds, toasted
10g dill leaves, roughly chopped
10g basil leaves, roughly torn
For the parsley oil
30g parsley leaves
120ml olive oil
1 small garlic clove, peeled
Put the couscous in a medium saucepan for which you have a lid, and dry toast, stirring occasionally, over a medium-high heat until some of the pearls begin to colour – about four minutes. Add the stock and a half-teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat and leave the couscous to sit, covered, for 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, finely grate the lemon peel into a small bowl – you should have two teaspoons of zest. Using a small, sharp knife, trim the top and tail off the zested lemon, then cut away the skin and pith. Release the lemon segments by cutting between the membranes, then cut each segment into rough chunks and add to the zest bowl with any remaining juice squeezed from what’s left of the lemon – you need about a teaspoon. After the couscous has rested, stir in the lemon mix and the oil.
Put the raisins in a bowl, cover with about 100ml boiling water, leave to soak for five minutes, then drain. Mix the raisins, cumin, almonds, herbs, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper into the couscous.
Put all the ingredients for the parsley oil in a blender with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and blitz until smooth.
Pack the couscous into a portable container and spoon the oil on top (though, if you’re serving this at the table, spoon on the oil just before you eat).
Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min
Rest 10 min
For the rice
1 red onion, peeled
½ large cauliflower (about 600g)
350g baby aubergines (ie, about 4 slim ones)
300g vine tomatoes, halved
1 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
250g basmati and wild rice
400g tin chickpeas
15g fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
For the tamarind dressing
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 ½ tbsp date syrup
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
¼ tsp ground red chilli
½ tsp ground cumin
For the ‘yoghurt’ dressing
100ml non-dairy yoghurt
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and line two large oven trays with foil. Chop the onion from above into wedges, separate into “petals”, then arrange on one half of one tray. Break down the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and put these on the other half of the tray.
Cut the aubergines lengthways into quarters, and put them on one half of the second tray; lay the tomatoes on the other half.
Whisk four tablespoons of oil with a teaspoon of salt, pour this over all the vegetables, then toss with your hands to coat all the surfaces and get into the nooks and crannies. Bash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife and put on the aubergine tray, then roast the onion and cauliflower for 20-25 minutes and the aubergine, tomatoes and garlic for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash the rice in a sieve under the cold tap until the water runs clear, then tip into a large saucepan. Drain the chickpeas, add to the rice, then cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain into a sieve, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Now make the dressings. In a small bowl, mix the tamarind paste, date syrup and oil with a tablespoon of water. Add the chilli, cumin and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and mix again.
Put the yoghurt in a second small bowl. Squeeze the flesh from the roast garlic on to a board and finely chop, then stir into the yoghurt with a quarter-teaspoon of salt.
To bring the salad together, in a bowl mix the rice and chickpeas with the baked vegetables, toss with the tamarind dressing and transfer to a portable container. Serve drizzled with the yoghurt dressing and scattered with coriander.
Family get togethers always tend to get the creative spark firing – not least because there are at least two other Kitchen Stars in SheWhoMustBeFed’s extended family. It just isn’t on to be bringing out the same ol’ dish all the time, though it must be said that The Plumber is rather fond of Soccattata – especially as it is gluten free. When he is left near a plate of Socha’ you only have to blink twice and half of it is gone. Woosh!
A food processor is handy for making this salad, though not mandatory. Grating the cauliflower could be done with a hand grater over a large bowl, though it would of course be far more work than whizzing it down the chute of the processor and I suspect generate a lot more mess. Cauliflower does tend to fly around the place when grating!
- 1 Large cauliflower
- 1 bag of baby spinach leaves or mixed salad greens
- 1 standard punnet of cherry tomatoes, all halved
- Olive oil
- Grate the cauliflower using the “coarse” holes in your hand grater / or food processor attachment
- Spread out the grated cauliflower on one or two baking trays (best to not have it too deeply piled)
- Thoroughly coat with olive oil and a few dashes of tamari. It is best to roll up the sleeves and use your hands to help evenly coat everything.
- Bake at 180-200c for about 20 minutes. Give the baking cauliflower a mix and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. You’re aiming for a slightly crisped, but not burned result.
- Allow the baked cauliflower to cool to room temperature (consider preparing the cauliflower a day before you need the salad and refrigerate overnight)
- Just before serving, mix the cauliflower with the greens and the halved tomatoes
Some beans really contribute to the taste of a dish while others are more subtle and tend to just round out the flavours of everything else in the meal. Black Beans don’t like to stand on the sidelines – they’re definitely an “Individual Contributor”.
- However many Black Beans you get from pressure cooking one cup of dry beans (maybe two standard tins worth?)
- 1 large onion, halved
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 medium potatoes, halved
- Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- Handful of fresh dill, chopped
- 2 TBSP ground pepper
- 2 TBSP miso
- 1 cup of white wine
- Generous splash of olive oil
- In a large, lidded baking dish…
- Add the herbs, garlic, pepper, oil and miso
- Next add the spuds and the onion (try not to separate the onion halves into rings)
- Tip the beans over
- Add the wine, and enough water to cover everything
- Bake at a medium heat until the liquid is well reduced.
I keep asking SheWhoMustBeFed where the name for these burgers comes from. The answer seems to involve either She or one of the LoinFruits exclaiming “Wow! They’re nice burgers.” upon first tasting them. Personally, I keep thinking that “WOW” must surely be some clever acronym.
Here are some suggestions from the long list of possibilities:
- World Of Warcraft
- Women Of Wrestling
- War Of the Worlds
- Women On Wheels
- Wendy O Williams
- Whip ’em Out Wednesdays
However you slice that (potential) acronym these are indeed a tasty burger that hangs together really well (courtesy of the oats and the linseed) that also have a really great ‘mouth feel’ due to the inclusion of all the seeds and the veggies.
Wow, what do I put in them?
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup linseeds
- 3/4 cup oats (or replace with gluten free flour)
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 2 1/4 cups of butter beans, mashed
- 2 TBSP Tamari
- 1/2 TSP ground pepper
- 1 TBSP finely chopped rosemary
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Wow, those all sound good! What do I do with them?
- Process the nuts, seeds and oats in a Bamix or similar until grainy but not powdery
- Thoroughly mix everything in a large bowl
- Form into patties (this recipe should make about 12 patties)
- Fry or bake
- Exclaim “Wow! They’re nice burgers.” upon first tasting them
As with all burger mixes, these will hold together even better if made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few hours (cover container).
She-Who-Must-Be-Fed has recently gone a bit nuts about cheese making…macadamia cheese that is. Which of course raises the very reasonable question…how do you milk a macadamia? Answer: using very tiny hands.
In fact she is in the kitchen just now finishing a batch and has just called out “I like making this cheese…its fun!” Of course she doesn’t actually realise that I am in the process of putting up this entry so what is fun is knowing that at some point she’ll come back to check the recipe and find that I just typed her little exclamation in as part of the intro’, and say “Hey!!”.
Back to the cheese; this recipe entry is really just a pointer to Russell James’ ‘the raw chef‘ site, as it is his recipe. It’s just that every time that She-Who-Must-Be-Fed wants to make this cheese, she has to look it up and that requires going to Russell’s site and hunting through it to find the right recipe. Also I thought that all my readers (yes I’m addressing you both) might also be interested in this.
So, click here to find the recipe.
PS. James spells macadamia as ‘macademia’ which perhaps is meant to infer this is a thoughtful and studious recipe.
Brazil’s Ministry of Health have issued new dietary guidelines that are simply awesome. They can be found in full here (PDF).
The guidelines can summarised as follows:
1. Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet
2. Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking natural or minimally processed foods and to create culinary preparations
3. Limit consumption of processed foods
4. Avoid consumption of ultra-processed products
5. Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company
6. Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods
7. Develop, exercise and share culinary skills
8. Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life
9. Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals
10. Be wary of food advertising and marketing
Long read? Slow food? How about nearly four hours for a cabbage dish…howzatgrabya?
To be clear; I don’t actually like cabbage. Generally I think they’re like a Godzilla-ish Brussel Sprout. Only the death ray doesn’t shoot out of your eyes it shoots out a little lower down. I do however like this dish, which says a lot about the merits of this recipe in my (ever humble) opinion.
- About 1/2 a large cabbage, or equivalent.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tabs light miso
- 400 ml water
- Splash of olive oil
- 4 hours
Crush and very lightly sauté the garlic in the oil. In the same pan, add the water and bring to a boil, then add the miso and thoroughly dissolve.
Remove any manky outer leaves off the cabbage and compost. Cut the cabbage into 5cm or so thick slices, going across the layers. Try to keep each slice as intact as possible.
Lay the slices, tightly packed into a lidded baking dish that has sides high enough to be higher than the cabbage slices. If you don’t have enough cabbage to pack the dish, and don’t have a smaller dish, cut another slice of cabbage. Go with the flow people!
Pour the liquid evenly over the cabbage.
Bake the container with the lid on at 250c for 30 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 150c and bake for another 90 minutes. After that, carefully turn all the cabbage slices over and repack them as tightly as possible. Bake for another 90 minutes.
Real men don’t eat quiche. Real men eat vegan quiche, then do the washing up followed by giving their partners a back massage.
This is a superior quiche to this one.
A lot of the heavy lifting steps in this recipe can be done ahead of time, indeed the pastry needs to be made ahead of time and refrigerated for while. The cauliflower can also be roasted a day or two ahead if you happen to using the oven already.
- 1 batch Shortcrust pastry
- 1 batch Scrambled breakfast tofu
- 300 g cauliflower, chopped into small florets
- Handful of green beans, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced fairly thinly
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1.5 cups water
- 2 tabs of light miso
- handful of your favourite olives (de-stoned if necessary) and sliced
- 2 or 3 (semi) sundried tomatoes, chopped
- Olive oil
Dissolve the miso into the water. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, miso water, 2 tbsp of the oil. Cover and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. There’s no need to refrigerate it – in fact…just don’t. The keen eyed will note that this step is based on a Soccatta mix.
Soccatta mix is ready…Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Roast the cauliflower. Place in a bowl with a splash of olive oil and coat well. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until softened and slightly charred. Put to one side.
Whilst roasting, add a teaspoon of oil to a pan and fry the onions for about 3 minutes until they start to caramelise. Meanwhile, put a small saucepan of water on to boil.
Once the water is at a rolling boil add the chopped beans and blanche quickly. Drain and cool them with cold, running water. We want them still slightly crunchy.
Line an oiled quiche dish with pastry, prick the bottom and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and prepare the filling.
In a large bowl (or use one of the saucepans if big enough) combine the cauliflower, beans, olives, sundried tomatoes, onions, and scrambled tofu. Toss until fairly evenly mixed.
Add everything from that bowl into the pastry shell and gently smooth down until fairly even. Pour the the flour
mix over as evenly as possible. Top with the sliced tomatoes.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with a little olive oil, place in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Allow to cool before serving.
Kitchen Note: If you don’t have one of those quiche dishes where the sides can be removed separately from the bottom despair not. The shortcrust pastry has a tendency to shrink slightly so will almost always smoothly pull back from the edges during cooking. Lightly oil the quiche dish if in doubt.
Ever been sunburned? Gone to bed with that awful, sweaty, stinging feeling of hot regret? Had little blisters form then pop? We pretty much all have haven’t we. Stupid bastards that we are! “Stupid” because that ol’ friend of ours, our nearest star, our planet’s parent and orbital centre, The Sun, puts out a lot of energy. Just how much; well obviously enough to broil your shoulders at some point!
As this picture clearly shows, you can work out the energy received at any given point using this simple formula:
“, the theoretical daily-average insolation at the top of the atmosphere, where θ is the polar angle of the Earth’s orbit, and θ = 0 at the vernal equinox, and θ = 90° at the summer solstice; φ is the latitude of the Earth. The calculation assumed conditions appropriate for 2000 A.D.: a solar constant of S0 = 1367 W m−2, obliquity of ε = 23.4398°, longitude of perihelion of ϖ = 282.895°, eccentricity e = 0.016704. Contour labels (green) are in units of W m−2.”
Got that? Clearly though this formula doesn’t account for the various ways that the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs and scatters the energy as it travels from the outer edge of the atmosphere to ground level. That varies depending on cloud cover and other suspended moisture, suspended particulates, vegetation and so on. So lets just sum it all up and say that the sun puts out a lot of energy and on a hot, clear day you could fry an egg very, very quickly using just the sun’s heat.
Which brings us to this little conundrum; what do you do with an old satellite (internet) dish that has been superseded with a newer, faster model?
- Give it to the dish-installer man to take away and dispose of?
- Turn it into a very large birdbath?
- Leave it forever behind the garage until the Missus yells “Clean that shitpile up!”
- Use it to make mischief (in a fun, harmless way of course)?
Guess which numbered box the money is in….you betcha….Number 4!
There are quite a few YouTube videos of people making reflector dishes out of old sat’ dishes. Many of them use the little, square mirrors, like off a disco mirror ball. All I can say is that they must be richer than me, or at least more willing to throw money at a simple, fun project. At the cheapest price I could find those mirror squares for sale the total cost for enough of them would have been $400-$500. No way José!!
Reflective Mylar film is another matter – a roll of that comes in about $40-$50. The overall reflective properties probably aren’t quite as good as a set of glass mirrors (Mylar film comes in at about 92-97% reflectivity, not too different than mirrors as the actual reflective material in a mirror is basically the same stuff; however the Mylar film is impossible to adhere to the dish without some imperfections resulting, such as ripples, bubbles and some areas of glue overspray) and of course the film won’t be weatherproof so the dish will have to be stored indoors. However these cons just pale into insignificance against the cost savings.
The film was cut into (roughly) triangular shapes to allow us to better shape it into the dish. To glue the film to the dish we used a spray adhesive, masking off each previously glued section to prevent (OK…minimise) overspray.
Here is the completed dish, mounted on the post, leg spars and roof brackets that were intended to actually put the original dish on a roof, and are here slightly modified to provide a stable, free-standing base.
mayhem….errrr….I mean “Scientific Experiments of an Educational Nature” videos to come. The video above was our first “experiment” which was performed at around 2:30pm mid September. Can’t wait for mid-Summer at between 11am and 1pm (solar time).
Warning – try this at home.
Vermont is a bloody nice place. Nice people. Nice coffee. Nice environment. The ONLY state in the USA which has a state capital (Montpelier) which does not have a McDonalds outlet in town. I mean…how good is THAT! I particularly recommend the Rivendell Book shop there as being a very cool little bookshop selling a mix of new and second hand titles, which also features highly knowledgeable staff who can find a second hand copy of Finnegans Wake in an instant, without resorting to looking on the computer to see if they have it in stock and if so where in the shop it might be. The shop also has a very happy looking turtle in a large tank in the rear children’s book room. You don’t get that buying books through Amazon.com.
Vermont was also the birthplace of Edward John Phelps.
Edward was a man of excellent whiskers, crinkly laugh lines around his eyes, and a habit of quoting other, similarly whiskered men, for example a certain William Connor Magee.
Now ol’ Billy Magee actually lived during the early years of photography, albeit he died well before every man and his monkey was busy snapping selfies every second of the day. Despite Billy and photography sharing their timelines all we have as a visual reminder of little Billy is this:
I think we can all agree that either Billy was, ahem…not everyone’s idea of a “Babaliscious Stud”. Or perhaps that this is not exactly the best drawing in the world. Still…now I know who inspired this character:
Despite appearances ol’ Billy Magee was no fool, and he is famous for saying “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything”; exactly the words that Edward would quote some years later.
And so it is that via a circuitous route we come to the postmortem of the coffee table construction, for it certainly was not without the making of mistakes.
To be fair, the only “formal” learning I have received concerning woodwork came in the form of a woodworking class I took in Year 9 or year 10 in High School, and I can’t say I was “Top of the class”. Still…life I think can make one more practical as time goes by, and so those long ago learned basics are perhaps today augmented by a little more common sense and a set of basic tools with which practice has made me familiar, plus some feeling of security that comes from the knowledge that any mistakes made are mine alone and won’t be counting toward a dreaded school report at end of term.
Things I would do differently next time:
- Keep a wider separation between random bits of cloth and electric planers.
- Even when knowing which way I wanted the legs glued, slap myself a few times before drilling and gluing them together.
- Work out some way of rigging up a planing jig (without having to buy one) so that I could have finished the timbers for the top slab to D.A.R. state ie. planed to squared dimensions. The individual strips within the edge-dowelled slab don’t quite come together in some places as the sides were planed to eye-sight not in a jig. Overall this looks OK as the finished piece has a deliberately “organic” shape anyway, but having the timbers D.A.R. would have been nice.
- Cutting to length braces that match the distances between the leg cuts on the bottom shelf, allowing the legs and shelf to be (dry) clamped to the exact dimensions, using the braces to keep the correct distances between the leg pairs before drilling the dowel holes in the tops of the legs and then in the top slab. Despite the best care somehow the legs ended up moving out a little during this step, thus the cut-outs in the bottom shelf each have about a 1.5mm gap instead of each leg being tight into its cut-out.
That said, I am happy with the outcome. It is nice to put something down on that table and know that it is a product of my own effort, and not something that has been spat out at volume from some distant, anonymous factory. It is also nice to know that this piece of furniture has not required the felling of some new forest in order to make it, as it is (mostly) a product of re-using old timbers. Finally, it is good to take some old piece of timber and turn it into something useful.
Thus life’s circle turns and what was ageing and passed it’s first purpose has become something new.
Time to dust off the tools and replace those buggered legs.
Here are the two, glued and finish-sanded sets of legs. Sadly there were no more “nice old bolt holes” to be had, but each leg features a couple of nail holes, from which the nails have been pulled (well….”mostly pulled” as a few snapped off despite the best of care).
After cutting the cedar slab has then been sanded with 80, 120, 240 and 280 grade paper. There was quite a bit of saw blade chatter marking on the board, especially near the larger of the two circles in the grain (where a branch would have originally grown). To completely eliminate these would have required taking about 2mm off which was impractical for a number of reasons. Hence the worst of the chatter has been sanded out before moving on to the finishing sanding. The end result is smooth, if a little ripply.
Here are all the pieces waiting for final assembly – pretty much the last time this is going to look like a pile of parts.
And all clamped up for the final gluing…
After about an hour or so on went the first coat of linseed oil; everywhere except where the clamps and the glue were, because by this stage I just couldn’t wait to see what the grain was going to come up like…
Time to put it all away and let the final glue cure overnight!
I admit it…I’ve been sulking for a little while. I’d thrown my safety goggles out of the pram. Downed tools. Generally turned my back on the Coffee Table project. You see….someone had been twisting my leg!
A while back I did a “finish sand” over all the surfaces of the first set of legs, dowelled them up, and braced and glued them. Here they are;
One of the legs had a lovely, feature “bolt hole” for which this length of timber had been selected. All that remained to be done with this leg set was to give it a final finish-sand, especially to remove excess glue around the joints. All good!
Except….I’d put the legs on the wrong way! As you may see in the “middle” picture the leg timbers are rectangular, not square. In this leg-set I dowelled the crossbeam into the short side of the legs, not the wide side. This error is more than simply one with aesthetic implications, as it makes the overall leg set too wide for the table top.
No way to redeem this now – it just goes into the newly created “Collection of very nice H-shaped timber pieces that may one day be useful” pile. I’m rather hoping to not add too much more to that collection!
Oh well….after a little sulk it’s time to cut two more legs and start again!
If you don’t eat anything with a face nor anything that comes from something with a face then you can end up eating a lot of tomato based Italian food. How much? A LOT. The default meal cooked by a restaurant “chef” who couldn’t be bothered spending 3.764 minutes finding a decent vegan recipe is “Pasta in a tomato sauce, with whatever vegetables need to be used but always capsicum”. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good Spaghetti Bolognese in this house, but sometimes it is nice to have something different when taking the menu to Italia for the night. Something with a creamy sauce rather than a tomato sauce.
But how to dream of cream without playing milkmaid?
Yes…nuts….or to be more specific cashew nuts. Oh yes…
Soak raw cashews in water and then blend them and you get…cashew cream; another one of those unlikely little transformations that make cooking a joy. Cashew cream is a great base for cream based recipes whether sweet or savoury.
So…Vieni con me in cucina con i vostri anacardi e faremo una bella cena insieme (*)
Portate con voi (abbastanza per due)
- 1/2 cup of raw cashews
- half a dozen or so medium sized mushrooms, quartered
- your choice of: green beans, asparagus, broccoli spears, fresh peas, broad beans or whatever something green you like. In any case you want about an equal amount as you have of mushrooms. Chop into stir-fry type pieces
- one small onion, cut into large rings or quartered and separated.
- two cloves of garlic, minced
- a TBSP of light miso paste
- about two TSP of chopped, fresh rosemary
- about 1/4 of a cup of chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
- one bay leaf
- 2 TSPN of ground pepper (this may seem excessive but the cream sauce dulls the heat a lot)
- one cup of white wine
- olive oil
- penne – use gluten free if desired (however much you think you’ll need; some people like a lot of pasta, some not so much. Go on…make a decision on your own)
- Before getting to the rest of the “method” – don’t forget to cook the pasta as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, timing the pasta to be ready whenever the following is done. Helpful tip: The steps related to making the creamed cashews, and mixing it into the saucy, wine mix can be done ahead of time, making it all much easier to get the timing right.
- Firstly, soak the cashews in water. Best to use freshly boiled water; cover the nuts and leave them for at least three hours. Oops!! You didn’t read this until it was WAY too late to leave them for 3 hours! Panic not and do what everyone else does…cheat. Put the nuts and water into a small, covered pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Regardless of how you got there…drain the nuts afterwards, retaining the water.
- To cream the cashews: place the soaked nuts in a Bamix Wet and Dry Processor or similar. You could use any food processor of course but something small like the aforementioned will work best as you’re not doing a high volume of material. Add a little of the water and blend until a fluffy, smooth and absolutely-no-solid-bits consistency is achieved. Keep adding a bit more of the water as needed, as you go along. If you run out of the reserved water just use some extra. Once done…put aside.
- In a small pot very lightly sauté the garlic and ground pepper in some olive oil. As soon as it is aromatic add the wine, the miso, the bay leaf, rosemary and half of the parsley. Dissolve the miso then continue to lightly simmer for a minute, then remove from the heat. Add the creamed cashews and mix thoroughly.
- In a heavy fry pan sauté the onion in some more olive oil until clear.
- Add the mushrooms and whatever green vegetables you decided on into the pan with the onion. Cook until just done – it is nice when the vegetables retain some crispness.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and add the sauce to the vegetables along with the rest of the parsley and mix thoroughly. You will notice that the creamed cashew mix thickens somewhat when added to the hot pan; add a little more water to thin the mix if desired.
- Serve over the pasta.
(* this may or may not translate as “Come with me to the kitchen with your cashews and we will make a beautiful dinner together”)
If you recall dear readers, at the end of Part 3 there was an unfortunate crossing of the beams, or rather the drum of the power planer and a piece of cloth. We’re digressing here for a moment to tell a story that follows the classic narrative arc:
- critical choice
Once upon a time I started making a table out of reclaimed timbers. This project involves the trimming of gnarly old, hardwood deck timbers with saw and power plane. The power plane is a hugely important character in this tale, without whom we would altogether be at a loss. His name is RYOBI, and he is a fetching shade of bright green, and is about fifteen months old. One day RYOBI accidentally swallowed some cloth, which wrapped itself around the drum before his operator could stop him spinning.
His operator (after unplugging RYOBI) unscrewed his side plate and tried to flip off RYOBI’s toothed drive belt so that the blade drum could be turned in a reverse direction so as to free the cloth. Sadly, the belt broke during this exercise. “No problem…drive belts on such power planers are user replaceable items,” thought RYOBI’s operator, “I’ll just get a new belt.”
And so to the store where RYOBI was originally purchased; the local Bunnings Hardware. Here the friendly Tool Section man, Luke, advised that belts could only be ordered via the Special Orders Desk in the store. “Bah-Humbug to that” thought RYOBI’s operator, and he promptly went home to order one online instead.
Here our story takes a dark and frustrating turn, as it turns out that the sole merchant for RYOBI products, including spare parts is in fact Bunnings. In fact the “Spare parts” page of the RYOBI Australia website is simply a store locator to allow you to find the nearest Bunnings outlet. Rather than head out the door again, RYOBI’s operator let his fingers do the walking and with a quick phone call later an order was placed for a new drive belt. All seemed OK in the world, and RYOBI would soon be happily spinning again and helping with the job of making the coffee table.
Hope was crushed however when a couple of days later a young lady by the name of Ali’ rang from the local Bunnings to advise that the RYOBI company had discontinued the supply of the needed drive belt. “But how can that be!?!?!” RYOBI’s operator exclaimed “They are still advertising that model planer on the website as being a current model, and you’re still selling the planers in the store!” Ali’, being only the messenger of the bad news in this saga was not held to blame however, and she offered our heroes redemption in form of a warranty claim “If you’ve had the planer for twelve months or less, and have the sales receipt just come into the store and we’ll replace it for you.”
Alas, RYOBI was already fifteen months old, and the sales receipt had not been kept. Drat! Double Drat!! And furthermore…Botheration!! However a few days later, after much seething about the Wasteful, Throw-Away Society in which we live and the expense of having to buy a new planer in order to replace a perfectly good one RYOBI’s operator noticed that RYOBI’s original box documented that he came with a TWO YEAR warranty. Still no sales receipt, however usually such a store as Bunnings will do a product swap or similar on supply of the credit/debit card used for purchase.
RYOBI’s operator tucked him all up neatly and snugly in his box, along with all his accessories and headed off therefore to the local Bunnings outlet. Now this Bunnings is not actually the same Bunnings where our hero was purchased, as that outlet has subsequently been closed and the store reopened to larger premises just a throw of a hammer distance away. Presenting himself, RYOBI nestled in his box, his tale of woe and his card at the service counter RYOBI’s operator was told “We can’t actually look up card purchase history from that other (now closed) store as in our IT systems that is officially a different store than this one and we don’t have access to that store’s records. Nevertheless, go and see Luke in Tools and we’ll sort it out somehow.”
Off to see Luke, to again tell the story, point out the illogic of the fact that Bunnings is still selling the same model of planer that the manufacturer is no longer stocking parts for even though its only fifteen months old and advise that the lovely lady over at the Service Counter has promised a happy ending. “But we can look up the purchase.” says Luke “We can’t in-store but our central IT department can do a search if you can tell me roughly when you made the purchase. I’ll need your card details and a rough idea when you made the purchase, and if you give me your mobile number and wait a while I’ll see what we can do.”
RYOBI and his operator thus went on an extended browse around the BBQ section, the plant nursery, a toilet stop (Note to Bunnings – you need more than one hand drier in the men’s toilet) and then back to the tool section to ogle the selection of Dremel fittings…until….some 45 minutes later….bbrrrnngg bbrrrngg goes the mobile with Luke on the line to say “Come and find me again and we’ll sort you out.”
It transpires that the IT department was still doing whatever Central Bunnings IT Departments do to try and locate a purchase in their records, but that Luke had decided to Do the Right Thing and process it all as a product warranty swap, and worry about the paperwork later. Sad, not-really-broken-but-needs-a-new-drive-belt RYOBI was thus left with the lovely lady at the service counter and replaced with a brand, spanking new replacement model.
Our story ends mostly happily then. The RYOBI company remains in the bad books for discontinuing a simple, user-replaceable part for a model of power tool that is still current and still being sold, and during the warranty period! Bunnings however demonstrated good customer service and sorted out the problem.
I now have a brand new planer, with a two year warranty starting now, and a new sales receipt that I will file away for a rainy day. However I am still annoyed that what is basically a perfectly good tool chock full of metal and plastic and the embedded energy and other resources used to manufacture it is no doubt destined for landfill. Totally and avoidably wasteful! Grrr!