Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sundried Tomato and Olive Spread- vegan

Great with sprouts and/ or avocado on oatcakes, crackers or toast!
I wanted a sandwich filling for work that was quick and easy to make, quite rich in protein and flavoursome too, so I raided my cupboard, set various goodies out on the worktop and set about combining them. I liked it so much I had it for breakfast as well as lunch! Home-made vegan and vegetarian pates and spreads are so versatile to use, plus quick and easy to make from storecupboard ingredients besides tasting so much fresher than bought ones. In this one, ground almonds provide a smoother texture and some protein and tomato puree and miso hold it all together, while the olives make it a cross between pesto and tapenade. If you're a fan of sunny, Mediterranean flavours then you will want to double up these quantities to make larger batches, as the recipe below makes only about 200g! This spread will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days.

8 sundried tomato halves in oil
10 stoned black olives
4 stoned green olives
1 dsp white miso
1 dsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence or basil
1 tab "Parmazano" vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
3 tabs ground almonds
  • Chop the sundried tomatoes into small pieces no bigger than your little fingernail.
  • Roughly chop/ crush the olives and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. 
  • Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Serve on toast, French bread, crackers, oatcakes... even on a jacket potato!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings- vegan

Delicious in a bean and veggie stew! Mine had fava beans, black beans and beancurd

These dumplings are perfect for times when you want something other than bread with your stew. They are very quick and simple to make, and quite filling, too. 2 per person is probably enough. My recipe makes 12-15, depending on the size. I used 15 between 6 people.

200g wholewheat flour
100g cornmeal (aka makai da atta)
warm water to mix 
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 level tsps baking powder
1 tab fresh sage
1/2 tab fresh rosemary
  • Snip the fresh herbs very small with scissors. You can add more for a stronger taste if you like, bu tI preferred it not to be too overpowering.
  • Mix all the ingredients together except for the water.
  • Now add the water, a little at a time, until you have a workable dough.
  • Knead for about 2 minutes, then roll into balls.
  • Boil the dumplings in water for 25-30 minutes, or you can cook them directly in a stew if the stew is going to take that amount of time to make.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

How- To no1: Make Radish Lotus Flowers/ Roses

The finished lotus flowers/ roses

Introducing the first in a new series of "how-to"s... Every month (around mid- month) I will post instructions on a cooking basic/ food preparation technique, which I hope will be useful. Your comments and own experiences are most welcome, as are requests for particular instructions. Today's technique is how to create flowers from radishes to garnish salads, buffet dishes etc. They are great when you have guests to impress, and when you want to make Krishna's offering look really special! If you don't succeed at first, then keep trying; they come out best when you can cut the petals really thinly. My tip: Make more of these than you need and choose the ones which look nicest.

1: Wash radish, take a sharp knife and "top and tail" it as shown.

2: Carefully cut thin slices nearly all the way through to form the outer  layer of petals.

 3: Do the same for 2 more layers of petals, working your way inwards.  Be really careful not to  cut all the way through and break the flower, while still trying to get the petals as thin as possible. (The radish you see here had to have its  petals cut again thinner before they would fan out. )

4: Now cut a grid in the centre to form the stamens/ inner petals. Cut as deep as you can without breaking the flower.

5: Drop the radish into a container of iced water and refrigerate for 2-4 hours to allow the "petals" to open. Be patient! If after a couple of hours only the outer layer of petals has fanned out, carefully re-cut the inner ones thinner.

The finished flowers look really pretty on green salads.

PS: Look here, here, here, here and here for a few salad and dip recipes from this blog which would look and taste great with radish flowers as a garnish. Or use the blog's search engine in the right hand sidebar.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Strawberry Spearmint Ice Lollies-vegan, no added sugar

The perfect Summer cooler: now all we need is the Summer :(

Undeterred by the distinct lack of sunny weather here in the UK, my grown-up stepdaughter Roisin has been experimenting with funky, healthy ice lollies made from teas and juices and texting me about them! I decided to reply to her with one of my own, so Sheenie, this one's for you! x (And you'd better come over and get one before they all go...)
I'm also sending this to Indrani's "Summer Cooler" event; check out all the wonderful recipes she's collected there.

400g fresh ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1 tab agave nectar
1 tab fresh spearmint leaves
  • Mash the strawberries coarsely.
  • Snip the spearmint into really fine pieces with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and add to the pulped strawberries.
  • Stir in the agave nectar. If you think your strawberries are not perfectly ripe, then add a little more.
  • Let stand for about half an hour to let the flavours infuse.
  • Pour into 6 lolly moulds- or you can use small plastic cups with a lolly stick or teaspoon in them- and freeze until solid.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hot'n'Sour Rhubarb Orange Chutney

The Rhubarb breaks down somewhat, but the orange stays intact to  provide an interesting texture

This recipe made a Barleycup jar-ful (photo taken after 6 people had  dug in at dinner!)

Yet another recipe born of the need to use up more of our home-grown rhubarb; and by the way it went down, we will be using a lot of rhubarb making more of it...
Notebook in hand, I watched my husband create this chutney. The orange came about because we were out of lemons and limes, but then he realised that orange and rhubarb go really well together anyway.

2 tabs olive oil
1 1/2 tsps mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 finely- chopped chillis: we used one Scotch bonnet and one milder red chilli from the supermarket
250g fresh rhubarb (cut into 1cm x 2cm pieces)
About 200g fresh oranges (that's one large orange), without the pips but with the skin on, and cut into 1cm x 2cm pieces
1 tab water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 rounded tsp seasalt
1 tab rice malt and 1 tab demerara sugar (or 2 tabs gour)
  • Pop the mustard seeds in the oil, then add the cumin seeds and the chillis. Gently stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the rhubarb and orange with the water to start it cooking. 
  • Add the turmeric and salt, put the lid on the pan and cook on minimum heat just until the orange and rhubarb are soft but retaining their shape. 
  • Stir in the malt and sugar/ gour, and stop cooking when it's mixed in.
  • When cool, put into a jar and store in the fridge.
This chutney is great with rice and sabji, or even in a cheese toastie!