Miso Soup with Noodles

2 09 2015

One of the easiest soups to make and can easily be adapted to your personal tastes. This is also great as a portable lunch. Just make everything up then add boiling water when you get close enough to a kettle. Nice alternative to a limp sandwich

You can put pretty much whatever you like into this. Here is what I used which made enough for 4 people
1 small carrot – peeled and finely sliced
1 small red pepper – cut into chunky dice
3-4 spring onions – sliced
1 red chili – sliced
A large pinch of dried wakame
1 small packet of firm tofu – cut into largish dice
1 tablespoon miso paste – i used a soybean based paste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Rice noodles – use the flat ones if you are going to cook this a little or vermicelli for instant miso soup
1 vegetable stock cube
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 chunk of root ginger – finely chopped
Splash of mirin
A handful of broccoli – I used tenderstem but any sort works

Put all the ingredients in a pan. Add boiling water and heat until simmering. For instant soup just add boiling water and stir for a couple of minutes to dissolve the stock and miso paste.

Serve with slices of pickled ginger and sambal oelek

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Gluten Free Pizza

31 08 2015

Not just gluten free, but also ultra low in carbs. Inspired by a recent cauliflower cheese tart where I used a cauliflower crust, I thought I’d try to use some of the glut of courgettes we get at this time of year on our allotment in another unusual way.

The topping is a standard pizza topping and you can use pretty much whatever you like. The crust uses grated courgettes with a few additions to help it bind.

For the base
2 medium courgettes – grated
1 egg
100g cheddar cheese – grated
1-2 tablespoons polenta

For the topping
4-5 ripe tomatoes
Glug of olive oil
1 clove garlic
Fresh basil leaves
1 ball of mozarella
Mushrooms

Place the grated courgettes into a clean tea towel and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Give it a few goes as you’ll be surprised just how much water they hold.

Empty into a bowl, add the grated cheese, egg and polenta and stir well.

Oil a baking tray or pizza stone then spread the mixture out of the tray as thinky as possible. I used a fork to press it down firmly.

Heat your oven to its maximum temperature – usually between 250C and 280C. Place the tray in the oven for around 15 minutes until the base is dryish and starting to brown at the edges.

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While the base is cooking, make your sauce and prepare your other ingredients.

I finely chopped the tomatoes then placed in a pan with some olive oil and garlic. Add a touch of salt and sugar then simmer until thickened slightly.

Slice your mushrooms.

Take the base from the oven, spread the tomato sauce over, then dot with basil leaves. Cover each leaf with a torn chunk of mozarella – this will stop the basil from burning. Dot the rest of the cheese over then spread out your sliced mushrooms. Touch of black pepper, drizzle of olive oil then back in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and it looks like a real pizza.

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Beet ‘n’ Bean Burgers

24 05 2015

I first had a beetroot burger at Wholefoods Market on a recent trip to New York while trying to escape the cold and the rain. Then on a flying visit to Cornwall last weekend I had them again – this time at the takeaway hole-in-the-wall at Watergate Bay.

These can be made in advance and frozen. They work well on the BBQ too, just handle with care.

Make 6 burgers

1 onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium beetroots
1 courgette
1x400g tin red kidney beans – drained
breadcrumbs – about 3-4 slices worth
2 tablespoons tahini
a handful each of parsley and mint
a few flakes of chili – depending how hot you like it
salt and black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Allow to cool.

Grate the courgettes into a muslin or teatowel and squeeze as much water out as you can. Put the courgette into a large bowl along with the peeled and grated beetroot.

In your food processor, put the cooled onion and garlic, the drained beans, herbs and tahini. Blitz until it looks like a smooth hummus then tip out into the bowl along with the courgette and beetroot. Add a few chili flakes, mix well then slowly add breadcrumbs until you get a dryish, sticky mix. Season with salt and pepper, mix again then shape into six burgers.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan then fry the burgers over a medium heat for about 8-10 minutes on each side until browned.

Here I have served the burgers with a smokey walnut muhammara (from Anna Jones’ brilliant book) and a fatoush salad.

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Roasted, Spiced Vegetables with Paneer

14 05 2015

Roasted vegetables have always been a a standby in our house. Sunny, Mediterranean vegetables drenched in good olive oil and roasted, sometimes with chick peas, sometimes with cubes of squeaky halloumi and occasionally when feeling decadent, with both.

Sometimes however we need a change. I fancied something spicy, something curryish. Not hard to make, but takes a little care and attention. So why not roast a curry. Just chop everything, add the spices and pop in the oven while I can get on with other things.

The result was amazing. From now on I am going to roast all my curries. Well they do say people get lazier as they get older….

This makes enough for 4-6 people depending on how much bread you have. Also works really well the next day for lunch when all the flavours have deepened overnight. The paneer is optional. Leave it out for a vegan version.

1 onion – diced
2 cloves garlic – sliced
2-3 small potatoes – peeled and diced
1 red or green pepper – diced
1 courgette – diced
1x400g tin chick peas
3 ripe tomatoes – diced
250g paneer – diced
1 large whole chili – cut a slit in the side
1 teaspoon each of whole cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, black onion seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon amchoor (if you can’t get amchoor use a splash of lemon juice)
sunflower oil
mustard oil
fresh coriander leaves – roughly chopped

Put the oven on to 200C

Take a large baking tray and put the vegetables, chick peas and spices in. Add a splash of each of the oils then gently mix with your hands to get everything coated in the oil and spices.

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, turn occasionally. Add the paneer if using and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Take out of the oven, throw a handful of chopped coriander leaves over and serve with chutney, pickle, raita and breads. Leave the chili in the tray but you don’t have to eat it. It’s just there to add a little warmth to the dish.

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Quinoa and Red Bean Burgers

5 04 2015

Veggie burgers are tricky things to get right. Too dry and they crumble apart when you try to turn them in the pan. Too wet and you end up with a sludgy mess on your plate. On a recent visit to New York i experienced the good and bad side of burgers. On the first night I thought it would be fun to try out a good old fashioned New York diner. The menu described my meal as a veggie burger. I have absolutely no idea what was in it but it tasted vile and looked like a giant shredded wheat. Possibly the worst meal I have ever eaten. Next day however we took refuge from the cold and rain in Whole Foods Market had the perfect beetburger.

The other thing that struck me is everywhere is selling dishes containing quinoa. If you haven’t tried it it’s a seed, high in protein and has a sort of nutty smell and taste to it. It comes in red, white or black though I used a bag of mised. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in taste, the colour just changes to look of your dish. Widely used in salads, quinoa also makes a great burger ingredient.

This is my adaptation of a random recipe I found on line but am unbale to find again. i served it with a simple broad bean and potato patty, a poached egg and a roasted tomato sauce. The burger would also work in well in your favourite type of bun with chili jam, mayo and lettuce.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1x400g tin red kidney beans
1 teaspoon each of paprika powder, oregano and basil
½ teaspoon each of chili powder and salt
1 clove garlic – crushed
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
65g strong cheese (optional)

First cook the quinoa. Put the quinoa into a pan, add the water then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Drain and rinse the beans to remove the odd taste beans get when they are tinned and that horrid red sludge that sits at the bottom of the tin. Put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher of fork. You want something with both smooth and lumpy bits to rather than a smooth paste. Now add the garlic, the herbs, spices and salt and the grated cheese if using. Stir in the cooked quinoa and the egg, then slowly add the breadcrumbs. Panko work best here but normal bread crumbs made from stale bread work well if you can’t get Panko.

Keep adding a few breadcrumbs at a time, mixing well with a fork. You are trying to get a fairly stiffish mixture that can be squidged into burger like shapes. Once you have added enough brescrumbs, do just that. Take a handful and squidge it into a ball, then flatten the sides into a burger shape. You can get 6-10 burgers out of the mixture depending on how big or small you like them.

Take a large frying pan, heat a little olive oil then gently fry the burgers until golden and crispy on the outside, turning once. I think about 10-12 minutes each side seems about right.

Enjoy….

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Mediterranean Vegetables and Pasta

14 03 2015

During a holiday a couple of years ago in Kefalonia, this became a firm family favourite. Delicious vegetables, fresh from the local market, prepared in olive oil with pasta and cheese. What’s not to love?

The vegetables are prepared a bit like a ratatouille and can be cooked in advance. A great dish to get you in the mood for summer now that spring is well and truly on it’s way.

Serves 4
1 onion – diced
1 clove garlic – crushed or finely chopped
1 courgette – diced
1 small red pepper – diced
1 aubergine – diced
1 red chilli – chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
250g passata
2-3 tomatoes – diced
200g mozarella
150g strong cheese – mature cheddar or gruyere
250g pasta – I used Farfalle but any shape will do
Basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large frying pan then add the onions and garlic. Cook gently for around 5 minutes then add the rest of the vegetables except the tomatoes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until everything starts to get tender; around 15 minutes or so. Now add the fresh tomotoes and cook until they break down, then add the passata. Season with salt and pepper, then shred a few basil leaves and add them. Cook down until the sauce is nice and thick and the tomatoes have disintegrated.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta as per the instructions on the pack. You want the pasta to be quite firm as it will continue to cook once added to the sauce. Drain then mix in with the vegetable sauce.

Transfer to an oven dish, top with the cheeses and a drizzle of olive oil then bake in the oven at 200C until the sauce bubbles and cheese starts to brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with more shredded basil leaves and serve with a green salad, a fennel and white cabbage salad or a beetroot slaw.

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Roasted, Spiced Broccoli with Paneer

8 02 2015

I’ve been reading lately about the deliciousness of roasted cauliflower – just a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, half an hour in a hot oven and out pops a delicious, charred side dish.

I wondered if I could do something similar with cauliflower’s green cousin, broccoli. To make it more interesting I added some warm spices and some cubes of paneer. Served with grilled nan and natural yogurt, this makes for a very easy supper.

Serves 2 to 3 depending on greed

1 large head of broccoli – cut into florets
150g – 200g paneer – cubed
1 onion – cut into 1/8ths
100ml light olive oil
juice of a lime
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon chili powder – more if you like it hotter
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

Put the oven on to 200C or 180C with the fan

Mix the olive oil, lime juice, salt and spices in a large bowl then add the onion, broccoli and paneer. Mix well to ensure everything is coated in the spiced oil.
When the oven is hot, tip everything into an oven proof dish and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes giving it a quite stir around every 5-10 minutes to prevent the broccoli from burning.

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