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…..

Halloumi Aubergine Rolls

This is my take on pigs in blankets for the festive season, but just as good all year round.

To make 12 rolls

3 large aubergines
Olive oil
Harissa paste
1 pack of halloumi cheese

Top and tail the aubergines then slice lengthwise, first removing two opposite sides, then slice the remaining aubergine into four long slices lengthwise.

Brush generously with olive and then either griddle until browned and soft or pop them into the oven for around 20 minutes at 200C

You should now have 12 golden brown aubergine sheets

Spread a little harissa paste on each – about a teaspoon but you can vary the amount depending on how hot you like them.

Cut the block of halloumi into 12 equal sized sticks.

Take an aubergine slice and place with the thinner end towards you. Place a halloumi stick across the thin end then roll up towards the thicker end. Try to keep it fairly tight. Place each roll onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

When they are all done put them into the oven at 180C for around 15 minutes until the halloumi has softened.

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Japanese Style Vegetable Pancakes

Serve this with a simple soy sauce, lime juice and crushed peanut dipping sauce, a warming bowl of miso soup and crispy vegetable spring rolls.

2 tablespoons sunflower or groundnut oil
2 eggs
1 large carrot – grated
3-4 leaves from a cabbage – finely shredded
2-3 spring onions – finely sliced
1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a few chili flakes

Put everything except the oil in a bowl and mix well. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Pour in the mixture and spread out evenly over the pan. Leave for around 7-10 minutes then, if firm enough, flip it over with a fish slice, else tip onto a plate and place back in the pan to cook the other side for the same length of time.

Cut into wedges before serving.

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Broad Bean Burgers

For those of you who grow your own you’ll be aware broad bean season is once again upon us. Broad beans are one of the easiest things to grow, just watch out for blackfly and pinch out the tender tops as the plants grow to prevent the blackfly from spreading.

This recipe really does benefit from the extra time spent shelling the beans. Even young broad beans will work best if you remove the tough husks. I think I used about 30-40 pods when making this. I got 4 decent sized burgers out of it. You can shape the mixture into burgers and freeze for use later if you have too much to eat in one sitting.

Broad beans
2 large potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chili
2-3 slices of bread
Large pinch of turmeric
Large handful of parsley and coriander
1 egg
salt

Remove the beans from their pods, place in boiling water and boil rapidly for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins and place the shiny green beans in a large bowl.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Drain and add to the beans. Mash roughly.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chili and fry gently in olive oil until tender. Add to the mashed beans and potatoes. Add the turmeric, egg, chopped herbs and season with salt. Mix well then blitz the bread into crumbs and add those too.

Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Take a handful of the burger mixture and shape into a round burger. Fry gently on both sides until browned.

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Deep-fried Ricotta

Deep frying anything always make it taste better, especially cheese. Inspired by a recent lunch at Luna Rossa in Notting Hill.

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Makes 8-12 balls

250g ricotta cheese
70g parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent)
1-2 eggs
breadcrumbs (panko work best here)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sunflower oil for deep frying

Drain the ricotta and put in a bowl. Finely grate the parmesan into the same bowl. Mix well and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Take 2 bowls

In bowl 1 crack one of the eggs and beat well
In bowl 2 tip out some of the breadcrumbs, mix in the oregano

Take the cheese mixture from the fridge and shape into small balls – smaller than a golf ball.
Dip the cheese ball in the egg, then the breadcrumbs. For extra crispy coating, repeat again. Place the breaded balls on a plate
Repeat using the second egg and more breadcrumbs as you need them until all the cheese has been used up then return them to the fridge.

Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, fry a few balls at a time. They need about 2-3 minutes – just until the breadcrumbs brown.

Serve immediately with a tomato and garlic sauce (like the one used here) or chili jam

Crispy Cavalo Nero

The allotment is a little bare during the winter months. Only Brussels Sprouts and Cavalo Nero remain. Bored of bubble & squeak, and soups I thought I’d try the Cavalo Nero deep fried which concentrates the flavour whilst retaining the beautiful dark green colour. Cavalo Nero is packed full of vitamins A, C, E and K. These essential vitamins are retained through such quick cooking so this is arguably one of the healthiest deep fried foods you can eat.

Cavalo Nero can be difficult to find in the shops. If you can’t find it, use curly kale instead.

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Take 5-8 leaves and remove the tough, woody stalks. Then slice thinly across the leaves.

Take a saucepan and fill a third to half full with sunflower oil. Heat slowly. Test the heat by dropping one shred of Cavalo Nero into the hot oil. if it sizzles, you can add the rest though stand well back as the water in the leaves tend to make to oil bubble up for a few seconds. Fry until the sizzling noise stops, then drain and sprinkle with a little salt and caster sugar. Mix gently before serving.

Serve as an accompaniment to Chinese dishes or like this, piled high on top of a slice of pumpernickel, smothered with creamy, tangy blue cheese.

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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.