Broad Bean Falafel

Every street food market up and down the country surely has a stall selling hot falafel. These mildly spiced deep fried vegan treats are so delicious. A former colleague of mine used to travel far and wide, always insisting on trying falafel wherever he went. When I worked in West London I would sometime treat myself to a falafel wrap from Portobello Road Market – the most fully loaded, heavy sandwich I have ever come across. Later, I started working out east and stumbled upon Pilpel. Wow.

The relative healthiness of pulses, herbs and spices is offset by the deep frying, making them the perfect balanced dish.

Every year I grow broad beans on the allotment. They are relatively easy and can be sown from November through to spring so you get a lot of beans if you plan your planting a little. The debate around skinning continues. For me it’s a case of what dish you are making, salads and other delicate dishes need the somewhat tough husks removed. Slow cooked stews are just fine using them whole. For this dish, I removed the skins. It takes a little time but is well worth it.

So on to the recipe

1x400g tin chickpeas – drained and rinsed
about the same of broad beans – use fresh if you can and pod them, boil for 5 minutes, cool and skin. Else use frozen and boil them and skin them
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
parsley – roughly chopped
dill – roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
sunflower oil for deep or shallow frying
pitta bread
natural yogurt or mayonnaise
gherkins
shredded lettuce
tomatoes
chili sauce

Put all ingredients down to and including the cumin in a food processor and pulse a few times until you have a grainy, lumpy paste of sorts. Divide into around 20 or so small balls and flatten each a little.

Heat the oil. When hot, if shallow frying, fry on one side for around 4 minutes then turn and do the same on the other side. If deep frying pop them carefully into hot oil and fry for around 5-6 minutes until golden.

Toast your pittas until they puff then serve the hot pitta, falafel and sundries so your guests can assemble how the like. Choose from the ingredients above but you can also include pickled turnips, fresh chilis, a few coriander leaves, cucumber, ketchup. Experiment. It’s fun…..

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Courgette and Cheese Tart with Beetroot and Bulgur Wheat Salad

I’ve always struggled to build the right kind of relationship with courgettes. They are so easy to grow provided you have sufficient space. However some late summer they produce so many that it becomes a struggle knowing quite what to do with them all. On a good day I can pick 6 to 8 of them, only to find another crop just a few days later.

We recently had our first frost as winter starts to show its face and with that the courgette plants wither and start the process of becoming next year’s compost. Funny thing is, I miss them. I miss being able to pick my own and I refuse to buy them from the supermarket out of season. However if you are more relaxed about your courgette relationship you could try this tart

This is like a quiche but made with puff pastry rather than shortcrust. Despite blind baking to restrict the amount of rise in the pastry, it still takes on a life of its own. Very different to a traditional quiche or tart.

I served it with a salad made from raw beets, carrots and bulgur wheat.

To make the tart
1 onion – finely sliced
2 medium courgettes – sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
A splash of cream (optional)
1 pack of puff pastry – I use ready rolled for ease
150g crumbly cheese – Lancashire, Feta, Wensleydale all work well
salt and pepper

Put the oven onto 200C. Line a loose bottomed, metal tart tin with the pastry. This usually requires using two pieces of pastry so make sure there are no cracks in the join else the filling will leak through. Keep the off cuts for now. Pop a sheet of baking parchment over the base, fill with baking beans (or use dried beans or chick peas) to weigh it down, then bake for around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment. Let the beans cool and store them for reuse.

Meanwhile you can make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgette slices over a high heat. You want a little colour to develop as this adds some flavour to the otherwise bland courgettes. When browned and a little charred on both sides, remove and allow to cool. Turn the heat down and fry the onion gently until browned and starting to caramelise. Add these to the courgettes and allow to cool.

Beat 6 eggs with the cream if using, season to taste then add the cooled courgettes and onions along the the crumbled cheese. Pour into your par-baked pastry case. If you like you can use the off cuts of pastry to make a lattice top as per the photo. Brush with a little milk then place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until browned and the egg filling has set. Remove from the oven and from the tin and serve with the salad.

For the salad
1 medium beetroot
1 medium carrot
100g bulgur wheat
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
A very large handful of Parsley
salt

Boil a kettle. Pop the wheat in a bowl. Just cover with boiling water and leave until all the water has been absorbed.

Take a large mixing bowl and grate the beetroot and carrot. Roughly chop the parsley and add this then add the other ingredients including the cooked bulgur wheat. Mix well and season to taste

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New Potato and Edamame Salad

The father of a friend of my son has a potato farm in Jersey. He very kindly sent us a box of delicious early Jersey Royals. So flavoursome they don’t need much added to turn them into a delicious potato salad. You can buy podded, frozen edamame at most supermarkets now. This works well served with a tart perhaps, or just with some hummus, yogurt and flatbread.

The number is serves depends on how many potatoes you use and what you are serving with.

Small new potatoes (Any type will do)
A dollop of pesto – I used Basil but you can use your favourite type
A handful of edamame – or use broad beans or peas
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and cook for 5-8 minutes depending on size. Check they are just soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Bring more water to the boil and cook the edamame as per the instructions. If using broad beans, boil for 3-4 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water then pop the skins off.

Mix the potatoes (cut them into chunks if they are on the large side) with the edamame and pesto. Add a little olive oil to loosen the dressing. Then season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herbs

100g puy or green lentils
1 bay leaf
200g of your favourite grain (bulgur, millet, farro, quinoa, pearl barley)
1 smallish cauliflower of half a large one
half a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, salt
a handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
half a cucumber – diced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic – minced
2-3 large handfuls of herbs (parsley, mint)
pomegranate seeds

Start by cooking the lentils in a pan of water with the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for around 20 minutes until tender but holding their shape. Drain, rinse under cold water, discard the bay leaf and leave to one side.

Cook your grains as per the instructions. If in a hurry use bulgur as they don’t need cooking, just soaking in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Cur the cauliflower into smallish florets then fry in the oil over a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Fry for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Add the ground spices and a splash of water, stir well until the cauliflower is coated with the spice mixture, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a further 4 minutes until tender then allow to cool.

Take a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix well then add the cooked grains, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber. Roughly chop the herbs and add them too. Mix well then transfer to a nice serving dish. Finally, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and serve with flat breads and natural soya or dairy yogurt.

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Kale, Ricotta and Leek Pancakes

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, or Mardis Gras. So what better day to finally break away from Veganuary with a little dairy and eggs. Yes I know there are plenty of vegan pancake recipes all over the Internet but I decided to go a little traditional, but with a twist.

Veganuary was great. I loved trying out lots of new ideas and the challenge of cooking vegan having been so used to throwing cheese onto meals for over 30 years. But I never intended it to stay with me forever. I’ll certainly be cutting down on my dairy and egg consumption, but won’t rule it out altogether until next January comes around.

Instagram was littered with photos and recipes for sweet pancakes, but having never had a sweet tooth, I opted for something savoury. i do however find it most annoying that supermarkets insist on selling kale, chopped and bagged. Given they chop the tough stem into little chunks, it makes it far less convenient than selling the leaves whole. So make sure you pick out all the tough little cuttings of stem as they really are not pleasant.

This made around 6-8 pancakes (depending on the size of your pan) so enough for 2-3 people.

You can start with either the pancakes of the filling. For the sake of argument I’ll start with the filling.

a splash of olive oil
200g Kale – tough stems removed
1 small leek – cut in half lengthwise then sliced into 1cm slices
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
100g ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the kale in a pan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to steep for around 4 minutes then drain well. Put in a large bowl to cool.

Heat the oil in a frying pan then gently fry the leeks and garlic until softened. This should take about 7-8 minutes. Add the nutmeg then take off the heat and add to the kale.

Now tip in the ricotta and mix well. Season to taste then set aside while you make the pancakes.

For the pancakes you’ll need
100g wholemeal flour
2 eggs
150ml Almond milk – you can use dairy of coconut, but almond does give it a little nutty edge
150ml water
Sunflower or groundnut oil for frying

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl then add the eggs. Give than a quick mix with a whisk then add the milk. Mix and beat well to remove any lumps.

Take a large frying pan and heat a tiny amount of oil. Gte the pan nice and hot. Now take about ½ cup of the batter and pour into the pan. The best way to get coverage it to tilt the pan and pour at the top, then swirl the pan around as you pour so the batter spreads evenly. Cook for about 30-45 seconds until firm and the edges are starting to brown, turn, flip or whatever takes your fancy and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Remove and repeat the process until all the batter has gone.

Divide the filling evenly between the pancakes then roll the pancakes up and place in a lightly oiled oven dish. Grate 120g Emmental over the pancakes (you could use a strong cheddar or a gruyere perhaps) and pop them in an oven at 180C for around 25-30 minutes until nice and hot and the cheese starting to brown just a little.

I served mine with roasted new potatoes and a selection of salads.

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Asian Style Tofu and Noodle Salad

I made tofu banh mi over the weekend and had some of the baked tofu and pickled vegetables left over. I added some rice vermicelli and a few crushed peanuts and it made a great salad.

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recipe to follow when I remember the quantities but the ingredients include:-

firm tofu
mooli
carrot
red chili
spring or red onion
cucumber
coriander leaves
light soy sauce
dark soy sauce
lime juice
rice vinegar
maple syrup
ginger
unsalted peanuts

Beetroot and Celeriac Slaw (and a Baba Ganoush recipe)

It’s been quite a while since I posted an update here. With this post you get two for one. Two recipes in one post, but perhaps not for dishes that work together. The main reason for writing up both recipes in the same post is that I only have the one photo, with both dishes in it!

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The first is for a beetroot and celeriac slaw/salad. Whilst this dish uses beetroot and celeriac you can substitute any similar root vegetable (swede, turnip, fennel, or , though not strictly a root, kohl rabi), just shred them finely and use them raw. Beetroot does work well though both for colour and that earthy sweetness that compliments the creamy yogurt-based dressing

1 medium beetroot
½ head of celeriac
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and black pepper

Peel the beetroot and celeriac then grate by hand or in a food processor. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the grated vegetables and mix well until all the vegetables are coated in the creamy dressing.

The second recipe is for a baba ganoush, sometimes referred to as moutabal. I beautifully creamy, subtly smokey aubergine sauce or dip which can be served as part of a mezze. The smell of burnt aubergine skin is not particularly pleasant and can linger a little in your kitchen but you need to make sure the skin is blackened to get that smokey flavour.

1 large aubergine
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove – crushed
salt
olive oil
sumac

Prick the skin of the aubergine with a skewer or knife then place directly over a gas burner on your cooker. If you don’t have gas, place the aubergine under the grill. Make sure you do prick it in several places else it will explode.

Turn the aubergine occasionally until the skin is well charred and the aubergine is soft and collapses when you try to pick it up. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, scrape out the flesh and discard the burnt skin. Finely chop the flesh then add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic and enough olive oil to make a smooth paste (about 2-3 tablespoons). Season with salt, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of ground sumac.