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Kimchi – Korean Chilli and Ginger Cabbage Pickle

25 Mar Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

I think Kimchi is probably one of those Love or Hate things, like Marmite. I’m definitely a lover not a hater of both. I can see why you would be put off I suppose. I mean it’s fermented cabbage for want of a better description. Kids will love it.

Chinese Cabbage & Korean Chiili Flakes

It’s my new favourite thing. If you have never heard of it, where have you been? It’s a spicy Korean cabbage pickle (or condiment really) that can be used to liven up a huge amount of dishes. There are recipes using it all over the internet for Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Pancakes among other things. It is a really versatile thing to have in your fridge for those “What are we having for lunch/dinner that only takes 15 minutes” moments.

Kimchi

This recipe is healthier than most as it uses an apple for sweetness rather than the evil sugar monster. We like that.

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi Recipe

Makes 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free.

Adapted from Dr Ben Kim & Centre Stage Wellness

  • 1 Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage) the long ones (about 500g)
  • 4 Tbsp sea salt
  • about 450 ml (2 cups) warm water
  • 4 Tbsp Korean red chilli flakes/kimchi chilli powder (buy from Asian stores)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions/scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2 onion

Discard any outer damaged leaves, separate off all the cabbage leaves, rinse and chop into bite-size pieces. Dissolve the sea salt in the bowl of warm water, pour it over the cabbage and mix it well. Leave it to sit for at least four hours.

Rinse the cabbage well to remove excess salt then put it in a large bowl. Mix the Korean chilli flakes with a few tablespoons of warm water to create a paste, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together well. Pour this onto the cabbage, stir through the spring onions and fish sauce if using.

Blend the cored apple with the 1/2 onion and about 200 ml (3/4 cup) water then add this to the cabbage as well. Mix everything together really well with a wooden spoon or with your hands (using gloves) to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Transfer the cabbage with a clean spoon into a large sterilised glass jar or bottle, pressing it down well each time as you stack it up. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl but leave about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar/bottle before sealing it up. Leave the  kimchi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

The kimchi is now ready to eat. Store it in the fridge and it will continue to ferment slowly over time. As long as you use a clean spoon every time you take some out, it should keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Korean KimchiAdd a big dollop of it to vegetable stir fries to add another level of flavour, or to this Soba Noodle Salad or this Mee Goreng. It’s great in Asian style soups with some miso.  I love it sautéed with some broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil which you can eat with noodles or add the whole lot to an omelette made with a bit of soy sauce or even some scrambled eggs. It is a fantastic thing to have around for food emergencies.

Have I convinced you yet?

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Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

6 Mar Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Za'atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage

Red cabbage may not be your favourite vegetable. It wasn’t mine.  I have always loved the colour of it though. You’ve got to love food that is such a beautiful shade of magenta. When I run past these purple and green striped fields of  cabbages I can’t help but smile.

Cabbages

Another thing that makes me happy is the price. They are so cheap at the moment at the farmer’s market and if you have ever bought a cabbage you will know how far it goes. I mean these things go on for ever.

I use about a quarter of a white cabbage in this fridge emptying favourite Minestrone Soup that I now serve topped with a swirl of homemade basil pesto, it makes such a difference to the flavour.

mont 3

You can’t really use red cabbage in that soup though, it turns everything purple. Other than using it to make my Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage I have never done anything exciting or blogworthy with this beautiful Brassica. Until now that is.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

I found a recipe for roasted red cabbage steaks on Drizzle & Dip that immediately caught my eye.  She used a different spice mix but the idea is the same and I have been wanting to incorporate Za’atar into a recipe for a while.

Z'a'atar Spice Oil

Za’atar is herb and spice blend popular throughout the Middle East most often made with a mix of dried oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. There are other variations if you want to research it more.

It has many uses but its most common guise is to be mixed with olive oil, rubbed over flatbread dough and baked. You can also dip your toasted flatbread straight into a pot of it on the table. It can be used as a quick and easy marinade or rub for meat, fish and vegetables as well, as I have done here.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Serves 2-3 as a side dish. Vegan, gluten-free.

For the za’atar

  • 1 Tbsp sumac (used ground cumin or coriander if you can’t find it)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  •  a few grindings of black pepper
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes

Mix this all together and store in an airtight container.

  • 3 – 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a red cabbage (or more)  cut into 1/2 – 1 cm thick slices 
  • sea salt to serve

Mix the oil with the za’atar in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 180C and line  baking sheet with baking paper.

Lay the cabbage steaks out on the baking sheet and spread the za’atar oil all over them, you may need some more oil. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes depending on thickness and serve sprinkled with sea salt.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Serve these as a side dish or for a party as part of a mezze table with some Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Sweet Potato Filo Cigars , Roasted Beetroot Hummus and this Lebanese Lentil Salad. Just a suggestion.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

Make some more of the Za’atar straight away so you will always have some for dipping bread into or for a quick salad dressing or to serve over a plain hummus. The possiblities are endless.

You will be addicted, I am.

Za'atar Spice Oil

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rainy Day Dog

This little fella was all ready for the rain. He was really working that outfit and Rufus was a little jealous of all the attention he was getting…

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Quick Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

13 Feb Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Broccoli and Lentils

I bought some lovely tender stem broccoli from the farmer’s market on Sunday. I wanted to elevate it to top billing in a dish rather than the, green vegetable on the side of something else, that it can so often be thoughtlessly demoted to.

Tender Stem Broccoli

One of the most successful recipes on my blog (as in most viewed) is a delicious broccoli as the star dish. It’s my version of an Ottolenghi recipe for Chargrilled Broccoli with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles. It’s still one of The Washer Up’s favourites, and mine. I don’t make it as often as I would like because chargrilling the broccoli on  my striped grill pan fills the kitchen (and the rest of the house) with smoke. Our extractor fan is useless. I think it actually blows the smoke into the kitchen rather than extracting it, so I have to leave the front door open to let it all out. It might need cleaning I suppose. *Buries head in sand*.

Indian Spiced Broccoli & Lentils

This is a quick and easy supper or lunch dish that can be thrown together in about half an hour. That is a real 30 minutes by the way, not a Jamie Oliver 30 minutes. Which is more like 60 minutes in human time in case you were wondering.

Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

Serves 2 as a light lunch/supper with some Indian bread. Easily doubled.

Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 2 tsp coconut oil (or any cooking oil)
  • about 225 g tender stem broccoli or florets
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 125 g dried yellow lentils (or any quick cook lentil)
  • 250 g + veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of flaked almonds (or cashews) toasted in a dry pan until lightly browned

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat, add the cumin seeds & mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add in the onion, garlic, chilli & ginger with a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Then add the lentils, turmeric and ground coriander stirring to coat the lentils and pour in 250 ml stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat  and simmer, covered for about 12 minutes (depending on the lentils) until they are tender soft. Lay the broccoli on top of the lentils and add a good splash of veg stock, season well with salt & pepper, bring to the boil again then lower the heat and simmer, covered again for about 5 minutes until the broccoli is tender but still crisp.

Add most of the fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

Serve topped with some toasted flaked almonds, the rest of the fresh coriander and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.

Indian Broccoli & Yellow Lentils

And no need to use (or clean) the grill pan or the extractor. Result.

Indian Broccoli with Lentils

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

22 Jan Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

This is my type of comfort food. Spice roasted sweet potatoes cooked down and mashed with tomatoes then mixed with black beans, fresh coriander and lime juice. That’s the filling, you could just eat that on its own with spoon if you like.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Filling & Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce

But rolled up in soft flour tortillas and covered in the quick and easy Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce from my Mexican Tortilla Lasagne recipe it is divine. Not forgetting the handful of mature Manchego cheese that is grated over the top before going in the oven.

Step by Step Enchiladas

The final step of whacking it under a hot grill for 5 minutes at the end is what makes this special though. You need to give it that caramelised at the edges crispy cheese topping that is irresistible. To me anyway. You have to keep your eye on it, there’s a fine line between brilliance and burnt beyond repair.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle Sauce Recipe

Serves 4, vegetarian. Adapted from Call Me Fudge

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 300 g each)
  • olive oil salt & black pepper
  • oregano, allspice, ground cumin
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 Tbsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 1 tin (400ml) chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tin (400 g) black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 10 x 8 inch tortilla wraps
  • a big handful of grated manchego cheese
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus garnish
  • lime/lemon juice
  • sour cream, or goat’s yoghurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and cut into 1-2 cm dice. Put them on the baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and allspice if you have it. Toss it all together with you hands to evenly coat then spread it all out in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the red onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add in the cooked sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chipotle sauce and water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to cook the tomatoes. Mash the sweet potatoes in the pan then add the black beans, stir them through and add the chopped coriander. Season with salt & black pepper and a squeeze of lime/lemon juice. Taste and adjust as required. (Try not to eat it all).

For the red pepper sauce:

  • 1 jar/tin, roasted red peppers (about 200-250 gr), rinsed drained
  • about 100 ml tomate frito /puree tomato/tomato passata
  • 4 or 5 tsp chipotle chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • the other 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  1/2 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)

Blend the drained, rinsed peppers, tomato puree, chipotle sauce, sugar, cumin & Worcestershire sauce in a food processor until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the processor with the red pepper sauce and blend again. Season with salt & black pepper and taste. Adjust as required.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 190 C. You will need either one large or 4 individual ovenproof dishes. Or I used the dish in the pictures twice, this amount fed us both for two nights. The amount of tortillas depends on your dishes so just fill as many as you need.

Spread a layer of the red pepper sauce on the base of your dish(es). Take a few heaped tablespoons of the filling and lay it at one end of the tortilla (as in pictures above), roll up the tortilla and place it in the dish seam side down. Continue with the rest until your dish is full (you may have to trim some).

Tip the rest of the red pepper sauce all over the top of the wraps spreading it out evenly. Top with the grated cheese and bake for about 15 minutes. Then turn the grill/broiler on high and leave it under there for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, don’t ruin it!

Leave it for 5 minutes before serving with a dollop of sour cream/goats yoghurt, fresh coriander and a wedge of lime/lemon to squeeze over. A nice green salad would be good if you need something to accompany it. And a bottle of Coronita, of course.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Buen Provecho!

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Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

2 Jan Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup & Chestnut Dukkah

This is another one of the recipes from my party mezze workshop. We served this spicy, warming soup in little cups with teaspoons. You don’t really need a big bowl of soup as part of a buffet/mezze but a little cup is just the right amount to get you started. I put little bowls of the dukkah on the table for people to sprinkle on top of their soup and to dip their bread into.

Spiced Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Dukkah (or duqqa) is an Egyptian spice mix traditionally made with ground hazelnuts. I added some ground roasted chestnuts to the blend for a seasonally festive touch but if you can’t get chestnuts don’t worry. They sell roasted chestnuts at the side of the road here at this time of year, on little stalls. They roast them in big pots, you can see the smoke rising and smell them before you see them.

Chestnut Dukkah

There are millions of different recipes for Dukkah, every family has their own but this is a pretty basic version using hazelnuts, cumin and coriander seeds, sesame seeds and black pepper.

The word “Dukkah” is derived from the Arabic word “to pound”. Not surprisingly, all the ingredients are pounded in a mortar & pestle (or processor) into something between a powder and a crumbly paste. It is served as an accompaniment to meals. You dip your bread in some good olive oil (thankfully we have just taken delivery of this season’s harvest of local olive oil which is like liquid gold) then dip it into the dukkah. The spice mix sticks to the oil, then you taste it and you will be instantly addicted.

Andalucian Olive Oil

Sprinkle it over soups, stews salads, hummus, yoghurt, anything really. It’s my new favourite thing. I’m thinking of using it in a dessert for a bit of savoury kick. You could add it into a crumble mix or maybe it would work with this fig & almond fumble. Then you would have a dukkah fig fumble. Try saying that after few sherries. It’s pronounced Doo-kah by the way.

Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

Serves 4 -6 (or more if you are serving it in little cups). Vegan, Gluten-Free

  • 1 med-large cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced (or 1 onion chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the leek/onion with a pinch of salt for 3 or 4 minutes until softened then add the garlic and all the spices stirring to coat and cook for another minute or so.

Add the cauliflower florets and the water and stir to coat in the spices. Pour in the veg stock, the cauliflower should be covered by the stock, if not add some water and season well with salt & black pepper. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is really tender.

Carefully puree with a stick blender or in a processor, taking care not to splatter hot soup everywhere. When completely smooth add a squeeze of lemon and the fresh coriander and blend again.  Pour the soup back into the pan to reheat, taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon if required. You may need to add a bit more stock or water to thin it down to the required consistency.

Serve topped with some fresh coriander and the dukkah.

Chestnut/Hazelnut Dukkah Recipe

  • 100 g roasted chestnuts and/or hazelnuts, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

If not already toasted, roast the chestnuts/hazelnuts in the oven for 5-10 minutes, watching carefully, until golden. Remove some of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them, while still warm, in a clean tea towel and set aside to cool.

If not already toasted, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden and pour into medium bowl.

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan, shaking occasionally, until fragrant and they start to pop. Pour into a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder. Pour this into the bowl with the sesame seeds.

Put the cooled chestnuts/hazelnuts into a food processor and blend/pulse until finely ground. Stir this into the bowl with the spices and add the salt and black pepper. Mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup & Chestnut Dukkah

Enjoy!!

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Tandoori Spice Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Quiche

27 Nov Tandoori Cauliflower Quiche

I saw a recipe for a whole head of cauliflower marinated and then roasted in Tandoori spices on Pinterest. Okay I am a bit obsessed with Pinterest but I get a lot of inspiration there and keep it all in one place without having to print things out and leave bits of paper piling up on every surface. The Washer Up is happier anyway. He hates mess and this way I leave less stuff on his art installation which is actually our kitchen table.

I’m not allowed to cook the pumpkin by the way. It’s a study in time and space apparently. Which means he is waiting to see how long it takes for me to mess up the space with my stuff. I love the new light though. Industrial, elegant and huge. It’s beautiful, not everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure. Pinterest made me do it.

So back to the cauliflower, I didn’t have a whole one so I mixed the tandoori spices with some goat’s yoghurt to make the marinade that I tipped over some florets that I had and added some chickpeas for protein and texture. I roasted these and left them to cool and dry out a bit because I wanted to use them as a samosa filling. The samosas were fabulous but we only had enough filo pastry for four, which we ate for dinner, so no photos I’m afraid. The technique is the same as for my recipe for Sweet Potato Samosas if you want to go down that route.

Because I could only make four samosas I had lots of filling left so I decided to throw them into a quiche for lunch the next day. Tandoori Cauliflower Quiche, that is Franglo Indian in case you were wondering where to file it.

The pastry is my olive oil spelt flour favourite that is quick, simple and delicious with anything.

Just writing out the recipe title below I had a brain wave that I had seen this recipe before somewhere. A little research brought me to Food To Glow who made practically the same thing a few months ago. It just goes to show that nothing is original even Franglo-Indian leftovers quiche. We do have very similar taste in food so I suppose it is inevitable, subliminal serendipity or something!! Thanks Kellie ;D

Tandoori Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Quiche Recipe

Makes 1 large quiche, Vegetarian

Tandoori Spice Mix Adapted from My New Roots

You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe

  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg grated
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 sticks cinnamon, broken
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp paprika

Grind everything except last 2 ingredients in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder to a powder then mix with the turmeric & paprika. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

  • 350-400 g cauliflower florets
  • 200 g cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 Tbsp tandoori spice mix (recipe above)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goats or Greek yoghurt
  • 50 gr toasted almonds or cashews
  • a handful of fresh coriander

Tip all the ingredients except the nuts into a plastic freezer bag, seal and mix together well by smushing it about in the bag with your hands. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour minimum.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the contents of the freezer bag onto the tray and spread out evenly. Roast for 25-30 minutes until dried and slightly browned then leave to cool. Stir through the toasted almonds/cashews and chopped coriander. Taste and add more salt & lemon juice as required.

You can use the cooled mixture as a filling for samosas, see recipe here or continue on to make the quiche.

Makes a 28-30 cm quiche. Vegetarian. Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tandoori spice mix (see above)
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • up to 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 gr) goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • milk ( I used oat milk)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of grated manchego/cheddar (optional)

Lightly oil & flour your tart tin. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and spices, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then drizzle slowly into the flour a bit at a time and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. you may not need all the water. Do not over work or it will be tough. You can refrigerate it now if it is warm.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to the correct size about 2-3 mm thick. Flour your rolling-pin and roll the pastry onto it lifting it gently over to the tart tin and unroll the pastry onto the tin. Push the pastry into the tin (do not stretch it) and trim off the excess. Keep it to make a little tart if you have enough.

Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork. Separate one of the eggs and use the white to brush all over the base of the pastry and the sides. Bake for about 8 -10 minutes until the egg white is cooked and the pastry is starting to dry out. This creates a barrier and stops the bottom from becoming soggy when you add the liquidy filling.

Spread the roasted cauliflower chickpea mix over the base of the pastry in an evenish layer, you will probably not need all of it. In a measuring jug whisk together the two remaining whole eggs and the extra yolk then add the goat’s yoghurt and whisk again. Add enough milk to take it to the 450 ml mark, season well with salt & black pepper and mix again.

Open the oven, put the tart on the middle oven shelf, pull it out and then pour the egg mixture into the tart, top with the grated cheese (if using), gently push the shelf in and close the door. This stops the mixture slopping everywhere hopefully.

Bake until the quiche is just set and nicely browned about 30-40 minutes. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.

Serve the quiche or samosas with a green salad and a yoghurt, lemon & mint dipping sauce.

Enjoy!!

Spiced Beetroot Soup with Herb Spiked Feta on Rye Crostini

7 Nov Spiced Beetroot Soup with Feta

Beetroot is one of those vegetables that I used to hate. It’s because of that nasty pickled stuff in the jars that leaks pink juice over everything else on your plate, contaminating it with cerise vinegaryness. Or is that just me?

It turns out that unpickled freshly cooked beetroot is sweet, earthy and delicious when roasted or made into purees or soups. It is also an amazingly deep, dark burgundy colour that turns a fabulous shade of fuchsia when mixed with anything white. Like white cheese, yoghurt or sour cream. Or clean white tablecloths.

It’s close relationship with white cheese isn’t only about colour mixing, it’s about flavour mixing too. You could just swirl a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt on top of this soup and still be treated to the sweet-sour, spicy-cool, hot-cold taste sensations that you get from every mouthful of this simple soup.

But adding the extra crunch that you get from a toasted slice of rye bread topped with creamy feta mixed with fresh herbs, green chilli and spring onions that you then put under a hot grill to melt, bubble and brown slightly, takes this humble soup to a whole new level.

You could also use pre-cooked beetroot to save time. It comes shrink wrapped in plastic. Don’t buy the pickled stuff in jars for this. That would be a disaster.

Spiced Beetroot Soup Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 whole medium-sized beetroot (apple sized ish), peeled, cut into small dice (wear gloves)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • 200 g tomato passata/tomate frito/tomato puree (not paste)

Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened then add the garlic, thyme, cumin & chilli flakes and cook for another minute or two.

Add the diced beetroot and the stock and season with salt & black pepper. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your dice) until the beetroot is cooked and tender. Add the tomate frito and heat through.

Blend carefully with a stick blender (cover the pot with an old tea towel if you don’t want pink soup everywhere) or puree in a blender or processor until very smooth. Add more stock or water if you need to, to get the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.

Feta & Herb Crostini

Makes 2, vegetarian

  • 2 thick slices rye bread (I used a rye bread roll cut in half)
  • olive oil
  • about 75 g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano/parsley leaves, (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • black pepper

Preheat the grill to hot and brush both sides of the rye bread with a little olive oil. Mix the feta and a drizzle of olive oil with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, mashing it together with a fork.

Toast the bread slices under the grill, on one side then lightly on the other. Pile most of the herby feta on each lightly toasted side, (leaving a little to top the soups) pushing out evenly with a fork then put back under the grill until golden and bubbling.

Reheat the soup and serve in warmed bowls topped with a little of the herby feta and the toasted rye crostini on the side.

Buen Provecho!!

Keralan Vegetable and Coconut Sambar Recipe

2 Nov Keralan Vegetable Sambar

Kerala is right at the top of my list of places I want to visit. It is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India and is known for having some of the best and most delicious vegetarian food in the whole of India. That and its beautiful beaches, backwaters, tropical forests and luxury Ayurvedic retreats and you can see why I am so keen to get there.

Until that day arrives I am happy to continue on my culinary journey around my kitchen and be transported by the flavours and smells unique to that area. Sambar is a typical southern Indian vegetable stew made with lots of vegetables and pigeon peas (or lentils) in a tamarind broth. The sambar is the spice mix or paste which has variations from state to state in the south.

Coconuts grow along the coast in Kerala and most of their signature dishes feature it in some form. This Keralan Sambar powder  is made by toasting coconut along with the spices and grinding it to create a paste that is used to flavour the stew. The sambar is finished or tempered with a garnish of mustard seeds, chilli and spices cooked in coconut oil that is poured over just before serving.

In the original recipe the pigeon peas or lentils are cooked separately with some turmeric and chilli powder until soft and mushy. They are then added to the vegetables cooked in the tamarind & stock to thicken the stew towards the end. I used dried quick cooking yellow lentils that cook in the same amount of time as the vegetables so I cooked it all together. Less washing up too.

The vegetables I used are just what I had in the fridge. You could use pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, aubergine, courgettes, okra…..

Keralan Vegetable & Coconut Sambar Recipe

Serves 4 with rice. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Mistress of Spices & Sankeerthanam

  • 75-100 g dried yellow lentils
  • 300 g sweet potato, scrubbed & cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 300 g cauliflower florets
  • 300 g (1 very large) tomato, chopped
  • 200 g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • salt
  • about 1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar or honey

For the tempering:

  •  2 tsp  coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli whole (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • curry leaves (if you can get them)

Put the veg stock and tamarind in large pot with the turmeric, chilli flakes, lentils, sweet potato and cauliflower. Bring to the boil, season with salt then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes & lentils are cooked. Meanwhile make the sambar paste.

For the sambar paste

  • 4 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • salt

Toast everything in a dry frying pan until fragrant and toasty. The onions wont be cooked. Blend to a paste adding some salt and water as necessary.

Stir the sambar paste into the vegetable pot then add the softer vegetables, the beans and tomatoes. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or longer, until the lentils have broken down and you have a thicker stew consistency.  Add the jaggery/sugar or honey and taste for seasoning. Does it need more salt or sugar?

When ready to serve, heat the coconut oil in pan over a medium high heat and add the tempering spices, chilli and curry leaves (if using). When the seeds start to splutter tip the contents of the pan over the stew and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

The oranges are coming. They are turning from green to a yellowy orange. Getting more orange every day. Which means it’s not long till Christmas.

Which means I need to get busy making Grandad’s Pickled Onions if I want them to be ready in time for Christmas. They need at least a month to mature into the spicy perfect beasts that everyone adores.

What Christmas treats are you planning to make this year?

Have a great weekend!

Sweet Potato and Feta Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

31 Oct Sweet Potato Cigars Filling

 Just because it’s Halloween I am purposefully not posting a pumpkin recipe. I’m not of fan of Halloween and this is my pathetic attempt at rebellion.

This year I actually purchased hideous Halloween sweets from Mercadona for the lovely children next door who knocked incessantly on my front door last year.  I studiously ignored them because I didn’t have any sugary, chemically, teeth-rotting unhealthy products to give them. They repayed my kindness by chucking eggs at our front door, so The Washer Up went mad and chucked them back at the neighbours front door. So this year I bought sweets. I hope they’re happy.

So anyway, this is  my kind of treat, filo pastry cigars filled with roasted sweet potato, feta cheese, spring onion, fresh coriander, parsley and red chilli. Unsurprisingly Middle Eastern in origin and unashamedly Ottolenghi of course, who else? He has a new TV programme starting in November on More4, needless to say we are very excited.

The tahini yoghurt sauce is one of my favourite things, it is totally delicious. You can serve it just as a dip with flatbreads or raw veggies, or I have served it with these Cauliflower Fritters, these Baked Falafel Cakes and these Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut) Cigars too.

Sweet Potato & Feta Cigars Recipe

Makes 6 cigars, serves 3-4, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi for The Guardian

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 400 g), scrubbed clean
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 75 g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red chilli deseeded & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (defrosted if frozen)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a knife and place directly on a rack in the oven. Roast for 45-50 minutes until soft and cooked all the way through. Cut in half lengthways and leave until cool enough to handle.

Scrape out all of the sweet potato flesh into a bowl and mix with feta, spring onions, herbs, chilli, salt & pepper mashing with a fork. Taste for seasoning and leave to cool completely.

When ready, preheat the oven to 200C, line a baking tray with parchment and brush with a little oil. Unroll the filo pastry sheets and cover them with a clean tea towel to stop them drying out. Remove two sheets together and place them on top of each other on your work surface with the short end facing you, so you have a double layer sheet. Cover the rest back up with the tea towel.

Cut the two sheets in half lengthways this will make two cigars. On the left hand double layer strip, put a few heaped tablespoons of the filling in a sausage shape about 2 inches from the end of the pastry nearest you, leaving a centimetre free at each side end. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and start to roll up your cigar around the filling, fold in the two side ends at about half way through and brush with a little more oil every now and then while you finish rolling up the cigar. Brush the top with some oil and place on the lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling, you should get six cigars. You can refreeze (or refrigerate) the unused pastry.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the tops of the cigars and bake for 25 -30 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

Tahini Yoghurt Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped Tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • salt & black pepper
  • cumin or sumac to serve

Mix all the ingredients together well making sure the tahini is mixed in and taste. Adjust lemon, salt or tahini to suit. Serve in bowl sprinkled with a little cumin or sumac and a few fresh herb leaves.

These are the perfect sweet treat for an evening huddled on the sofa with all the lights turned off pretending you’re not in…

Happy Halloween!!

Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread

22 Oct Wat & Injera Flatbread

A wat or wot (what?) is an Ethiopian stew. I first read about Ethiopian cuisine on The Taste Space and I knew I had to try it out for myself. It is spicy, which I love as you might have guessed and is great for vegetarian or vegan food lovers. The flavour comes mainly from an Ethiopian spice mix called Berbere. Berbere has as many different variations as I have shoes but the one I have chosen to make includes: red chilli flakes, turmeric, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice & clove.

I decided to make it with sweet potatoes and yellow lentils (or split peas) because the sweet potatoes are at their peak here at the moment which means delicious and cheap. You could also use pumpkin and chickpeas or any other vegetables you need to use up. Just add a legume to the pot to make it authentic and nutritionally balanced.

The traditional accompaniment to any Ethiopian meal are Injera flatbreads. Injera are slightly spongy crepe or pancake-like flatbreads made with a yeasted dough batter made from Teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain believed to have been cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 4000 BC.

I have a brilliant flour supplier in Alhaurin, Andres from El Amasadero who can get hold of these unusual flours. He also holds bread making workshops which I am threatening to attend one day.  Fortunately you don’t have to make these with Teff flour you can use spelt or normal flour instead. It’s actually fun to do. Or you could just buy some Indian or Middle Eastern flatbreads if you’re short of time (or patience).

Ethiopian Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free.  Adapted from The Taste Space

For the Berbere spice mix:

Makes 1 small jar. You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe

  • 4 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Grind the fenugreek seeds, red chilli flakes & sea salt in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder until you have a powder then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a dry place.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 600g), scrubbed and cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Berbere spice mix (see above)
  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils (or split peas)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 cabbage (250 g), shredded
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions, with a pinch of salt, for about 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two more. If it gets dry add a little splash of stock. Add the 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix, cabbage, tomato and season with salt & black pepper.

Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and veg stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander just before serving and check seasoning.

Injera Flatbread Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan. Needs an hour rising time

  • 110 g wholemeal, spelt or teff flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 15 g fresh)
  • 155 ml warm (not hot) water

Mix everything together in a large bowl to form a batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or longer until well risen.

When ready to cook, stir the batter then tip into a blender with about 110 ml (1/2 cup) water and blend. The batter will be quite thin.

Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil and pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan, swirl or spread it about with a spatula until it covers the base of the pan evenly like a crepe/pancake. Cook until little bubbles or cracks appear all over the top. You do not need to turn it over to cook the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus posing in the autumn sun.

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