Tag Archives: mushrooms

Asian Mushrooms and Pak Choy in a Crispy Noodle Basket with a Poached Egg

6 Mar

This recipe was inspired by a dish we had at Kitima in Hout Bay. Kitima was given the award for the best Asian restaurant in the South African Eat Out Awards this year. I can see why.

Behind its traditional Cape Dutch facade hides a series of beautiful lounges, secluded private dining rooms, bars and terraces. All opulently decorated with gold and brocade. It has that real “East Meets West” feel that many fail to acheive.

The large menu and extensive wine list is accompanied by knowledgeable staff and excellent service. The food is more reasonably priced than you would expect from this level of service and surroundings.

We ordered the Veggie Gau, steamed rice paper dumplings filled with carrot,water chestnut, pickled Chinese radish, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots. They came with a dipping sauce and some lovely crispy fried garlic to sprinkle over the soft dumplings.

And some Vegetable California, “Inside out” sushi rice rolls filled with cucumber, carrot, pickled radish, avocado & Japanese mayonnaise. They came with the usual wasabi, soy and sushi ginger.

We also ordred a Thai Green Vegetable Curry, Pad Thai Noodles and my favourite dish of the night, Kitima’s Mushroom Basket. This had fresh mushrooms wok-fried with cashew nuts, onion, carrots and water chestnut nestled in a crispy potato basket. Everything was full of flavour and authenticly spiced. By which I mean it was hot. Which is a good thing.

So, you will have probably noticed from the title (and the pictures) that I did not make a crispy potato basket. Well, I tried! They very kindly let me have the recipe and I gave it a go unfortunately without success. My excuse is that you need an industrial sized fryer (and an experienced chef) to make it work.

You finely julienne the potatoes, toss them in corn flour and line them on the inside of a stainless steel bowl. Then you submerge the bowl in the hot oil using a metal ladle to hold the bowl under and keep the basket shape. I didn’t have a metal bowl small enough to be able to submerge it in the oil (I used a wok as a fryer) so The Washer Up suggested that I line the potatoes in a sieve so that the oil could get in and cook them. Genius, I thought, it cooked the potatoes and held the shape.

But then I couldn’t get it out of the sieve, it was stuck! Fail number one…

Fail number two involved lining the potato matchsticks around the inside of my stainless steel hand juicer bowl. It was small enough, I thought to submerge it in the oil in the wok. But no still no go. So then he suggested that I should put the oil in a smaller pan so that the oil would be deeper. You see this is why we are together, I would never have thought of that. My mind doesn’t work like that.

It worked, the potatoes fried and it (kind of) held its shape. The problem came when we tried to turn it out of the bowl. They all fell out in a pile and they were soggy, not crispy at all.

By this time I was totally losing the will to live and starving hungry. Not a good combination.

The Washer Up to the rescue again, looks at the left over cooked soba noodles from last nights dinner and chucks them in the hot oil. They bubble and splutter a bit but they stick together and cook. Lifting the whole lacey noodle disc onto some kitchen paper to drain he moulds it, while still warm, into a basket shape. Success at last. We have a crispy basket. And soba noodles are so much better for you than potatoes anyway. Even if they are deep-fried.

I adjusted the mushroom recipe slightly too by adding some dried chinese mushrooms and using pak choy instead of water chestnuts because I didn’t have any. The poached egg and watercress were inspired by the gorgeous breakfast we had at Ile de Pain in Knysna. So this is really a hybrid of two of the best dishes we ate while away. It makes the perfect brunch or lunch dish and you don’t have to worry about the potato basket because I’ve already been there…

Asian Mushrooms & Pak Choy in Crispy Noodle Basket with a Poached Egg (optional)

Serves 2, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from the Kitima recipe 

Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 10 mins

  • 50 gr dried soba noodles, cooked according to packet instrustions, drained, rinsed under cold water
  • oil for deep frying
  • 200 gr mushrooms, wiped & finely sliced
  • 25 gr dried chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 mins or more (reserve the soaking liquid)
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 large spanish spring onion (or 4 scallions) green & white parts
  • 2 heads of pak choy, rinsed, leaves whole, white parts chopped
  • 50 gr cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp chilli bean paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • white pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander, stalks & leaves chopped seperately
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • raw carrot & red pepper julienne to garnish (optional)
  • watercress
  • 2 eggs (optional)

Remove the dried mushrooms from their soaking liquid (keep the mushroomy stock for later) and slice.

Heat the oil to about 180 C. Take a handful of the cooked, drained noodles (they should be dry) and drop them carefully into the hot oil. It will bubble up. After a minute or so, using a metal slotted spoon, check that the noodles are crispy and browned. Remove with the slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper and, while still warm, gently mould into a basket shape. Repeat to make a second basket. Set aside.

Heat a tbsp oil in a frying pan or wok over a medium high heat. Add in the garlic, ginger, coriander stalks & chilli paste and cook fro about a minute. Then add the carrots and the white parts of the spring onions. Stri fry for 30 seconds then add both types of  mushrooms, the white parts of the pak choy and the cashew nuts (save some for topping).

Stir fry until barely cooked then add a splash of the mushroom soaking liquid. Season with the soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, rice wine & rice vinegar. Throw in the green parts of the spring onions, pak choy leaves, most of the coriander and cook for another minute.

Taste and adjust sugar and soy sauce as required.

For the poached eggs. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil and squirt in a little vinegar. Crack the eggs into separate teacups. When boiling turn off the heat, stir the water to create a little whirlpool and carefully slide the eggs into the water. Put the lid on and leave them for 3-4 minutes.

Remove them with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper.

Put a handful of watercress on each plate and top it with the noodle baskets. Fill the baskets with the mushroom stir fry, topping with a few carrot & pepper juliennes. Carefully place the poached eggs on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a few coriander leaves.

Serve immediately.

For more information about Kitima visit their website here.

Enjoy!!

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Mexican Tortilla Lasagne with Roasted Salsa Verde

10 Dec

This is the best vegetarian lasagne you’ll ever make. High praise I know, there’s nothing like setting yourself up for a fall but I really believe it. Lasagnes are one of those meals that have been done to death, diluted and destroyed by frozen food manufacturers.

When we first opened the restaurant, one of the things that I promised myself is that we would never serve a vegetable lasagne as the vegetarian option. It is the fallback/default veggie option in many restaurants and I think it’s just lazy. Most of them are a frozen, watery, disgusting, flavourless disgrace. Enough ranting…. I also said we would never serve chips or Traditional Sunday Lunch, ha! That didn’t last very long, Sunday lunch was the best thing we ever did and chips are what the people want. It was a steep learning curve.

Continue reading

Mixed Vegetable Paella and Stuffed Peppers

6 May

 

This is one of my favourite recipes. It was one of the first recipes I posted on this blog when I started it last September. I have decided to reblog it for those of you who haven’t seen it because it is really versatile and delicious. I make it at least once a week. It is a great way to use up any leftover odd bits of veg you have lying around.

I use whole grain (brown) rice which takes bit longer to cook but you can use any short grain or risotto rice. For me the essential ingredients are saffron, peppers, tomatoes, peas, rosemary, paprika, parsley and lemon juice. Any veg you want to use is fine just make sure you have red and green in there to stand out against the beautiful saffron gold.

The best thing about making paella is the leftovers. I always make sure I make too much so I have some left for lunch the next day. You can always just reheat it but using it to stuff a pepper is such a quick and easy way to make it a bit more special. Go on spoil yourself. Just slice the pepper in half if it is large (as below) or slice the top off a smaller pepper, take out the seeds and membrane and pile in the paella. Drizzle with some extra virgin and bake for about 25 minutes. You can even grate over some Manchego cheese before it goes in the oven for extra flavour.

Just serve with a simple salad dressed with lemon juice & olive oil and a wedge of lemon to spritz over the paella pepper.

Another way to use up the leftovers is to make paella cakes. You just form the cold paella into little patties and shallow fry or bake them until crispy. The crispy bits are the best. You can see my full instructions for the paella cakes here. Or try stuffing tomatoes with the paella rather than peppers.

Mixed Vegetable Paella Recipe

serves 2 with leftovers, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 small green peppers (the long thin ones) sliced
  • 1/2 big red pepper, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 squirt of tomato paste (tomate frito)
  • 4 handfuls of short wholegrain rice(you can use risotto rice)
  • 1 big pinch of saffron (or an envelope of powdered saffron)
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  •  a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 stalk of rosemary leaves removed & chopped finely, about 1 tsp
  • salt & black pepper
  • a good splash of Spanish sherry(or madeira or wine)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • some grated Manchego cheese (optional)
  • 1 lemon, half squeezed, half cut into wedges

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion & leek  with a pinch of salt until translucent (about 3 – 4 minutes)  then add the garlic and cook for another 2 mins.

Add in all the vegetables, stir and cook for 2 or 3 mins. Add in the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the herbs (except the parsley) and spices, stir again until well combined. Add in the splash of sherry/wine and the tomato paste, stir to incorporate.

Add the veg stock, season well with salt & black pepper, and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium low, put the lid on and cook for 20 – 25 mins (stirring occasionally) until all the liquid has gone and the rice is cooked. Don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom of the pan the crispy bits taste good. Squeeze over the juice of half the lemon and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning.

Serve sprinkled with grated Manchego cheese (if using), some more chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.

Paella Stuffed Peppers Recipe

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • leftover paella (see above)
  • 1 large red pepper (or 2 small)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • manchego cheese (optional)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper
  • lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut your large red pepper in half, or cut the top off of two small red peppers. Remove all seeds and membrane. Stuff the paella in to the peppers and press down. Place on a lined baking sheet. You may have to cut a little bit off the bottom of the small peppers to make them stand up straight. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the peppers are softened and starting to collapse.

Serve with a simple salad of mixed leaves and cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & black pepper.

Buen Provecho! I hope you enjoy this easy weeknight supper as much as we do. You get two meals for the price of one which is always a bonus!!

“Wild” Mushroom, Shallot and Goat’s Cheese Tarts

13 Jan

The inspiration for this dish came from the amazing variety of wild mushrooms we saw growing in the forest where we walk the dog.

Some of them look like leather………

There’s curly ones….

And purple ones…!

I still have absolutely no idea which ones you can eat and which ones are poisonous but I’d say the purple ones are off limits. They seem to like it on damp, dark, mulchy bark and rotting leaves. So does Rufus…

I was too scared to pick any but it got me craving earthy garlic mushrooms and melting cheese. Nigel Slater is always good for earthy, delicious comfort food and he didn’t let me down. This recipe is a mixture of a couple of his recipes. He makes a big rectangular tart from a sheet of puff pastry. I made individual ones because I had some offcuts of pastry left I had to use up, and I don’t like sharing!

 

Mushroom, Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarts

serves 2, vegetarian, adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • about 300 gr mushrooms, try to get a mixture of different types
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 shallots, quartered & peeled 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  •  about 2o – 30 gr butter
  • 100 gr goat’s cheese, sliced into 1/2 cm coins you could use Brie or Tallegio
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary/ thyme leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt & black pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium low heat and cook the shallots slowly for about 20 minutes until they are softened and caramelized. Meanwhile 1/2 or quarter the mushrooms if large and put them in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice,garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt & pepper and mix well.

When the onions are done remove them from the pan, add a bit more butter and throw in the mushrooms and garlic mix. Pre heat oven to 220 degrees. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Meanwhile roll out your pastry to about 2 mm thick. If you are keeping it as a rectangle score a border around the edge of the pastry about 2 cm wide and prick all over the centre inside the border with a fork. If not cut two circles (I used side plates) from your pastry and score a 2cm border round the edge & prick the base with a fork.

Put the pastry circles/rectangle on a lined baking sheet and scatter over the shallots and mushrooms, don’t go into the border. Break up the goat’s cheese and stick it in amongst the mushrooms & shallots, sprinkle with a bit more rosemary. Brush the borders with some of the butter from the mushroom pan drizzle over any remaining butter.

 Cook in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed & golden.

Eat with something green, like broccoli, if you think it needs something else. If not, just eat it on it’s own, in slices with your hands like a Mushroom “Puff” Pizza….

    Enjoy!!

Chinese Mushroom, Pak Choi and Sesame Soba Noodles

6 Nov

We went to the chinese supermarket in Fuengirola yesterday to buy some noodles. Obviously we ended up buying loads more stuff. I love it there, there’s always something new and exciting to try- something you just have to have ! I love the packaging as well I am such a sucker for nice packaging it doesn’t matter what it is. I am always inspired by what is on offer and have to go home straight away to cook with it.

Yesterday we bought some lovely japanese buckwheat noodles in a gorgeous jade green packet.

We also bought an enormous pak choi, some dried shitake mushrooms & some fresh little oyster mushrooms.

This was the biggest pak choi I had ever seen, I just had to have it. They are normally small and slightly wilted looking and a bit disappointing really but this looked delicious. I think pak choi must be part of the Acelgas family because when I was walking Rufus this morning the acelgas growing looked really good as well, they must be near to harvesting them now. The Spanish call pak choi Acelgas Chinas which translates as Chinese Chard.

The Spanish cook the white stalks of the acelgas in butter first until tender and then add the leaves to wilt, which is how I am going to treat this huge pak choi but without the butter!

We also bought some fermented chilli bean paste which is one of my favourite asian ingredients. It gives a really spicy, savoury flavour to loads of dishes, essential store cupboard ingredient..

The other bottle is Shaoxing rice wine, another storecupboard favourite, it gives great authentic flavour but you can use sherry if you can’t get any. We also bought some new props for photos like the chopsticks, little rice bowl & spoon and a red painted white bowl. Asian supermarkets are great for props. They are cheap and look great in photos. Needless to say The Washer Up had to drag me out before I bought more stuff, I do get a bit carried away and excited…..

So those are the ingredients that inspired this dish, here’s how they come together..

Chinese Mushroom & Pak Choi Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 2-3 Vegetarian

  • about 6 dried shitake mushrooms (or whatever dried mushrooms you can find)
  •  150-200gr oyster mushrooms
  • 1 large pak choi or 3 small
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 1/2 large spanish spring onion chopped finely (or 3 or 4 scallions)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • a handful of fresh coriander including stalks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 or 3 tsp chilli bean paste (depending how hot you like it)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (I use kecap manis its sweeter & less salty)
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  •  2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2oo gr japanese buckwheat soba noodles (or your favourite noodles)
  • sesame seeds

First of all put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Leave to rehydrate for about 20 mins. Meanwhile put the noodles in a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions (about 4 or 5 minutes), drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

Pull away the pak choi leaves from the root and wash if necessary. Cut the green parts away from the white and set aside then chop the white parts into 1 cm slices. Slice the oyster mushrooms if they are big (I left mine whole as they where mini), then finely slice the rehydrated dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid to add to the dish when cooking.

Finely chop the coriander stalks and keep them separate from the leaves. Heat about a tbsp of veg oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, coriander stalks and ginger paste then grind over some white pepper stirring constantly. Add the chilli bean paste, mushrooms and the white parts of the pak choi. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the soy sauce (or kecap manis), the sugar, rice wine, sesame oil and 2 spoonfuls of the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir fry for another minute before adding in the cooked noodles(a handful at a time), the green leaves of the pak choi and the chopped coriander leaves. Stir fry again to heat through then taste for seasoning you may need salt or more soy sauce.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds & coriander leaves.

Enjoy in your new asian bowls!!

While Walking in the Forest Today….

28 Oct

I decided to take Rufus on a different walk today. From our roof terrace you can see the pine forests on the mountain. The beautiful bright green trees seem to invite you in. So we went ….

The Washer Up on the roof. When he is not washing up he paints things. Last year we had so much rain that the whole house leaked so he is trying to seal & paint everyting so we don’t get any leaks or damp this year. Last year the damp got into our wardrobe and green mould started growing on my shoes! This year I’m not taking any chances I have taken a little tip from my mother and put all my shoes in see-through plastic shoe boxes. They won’t get damp again and also I can see all my shoes, some of which I have never worn, its fantastic!!

It it wrong that this makes me happy? That’s just the high heels by the way the flat shoes are still in their cardboard boxes. These get special treatment….

Anyway back to the walking, its a bit of a steep climb to get up there but the view and the smell of pine when you do, brings your breathing back to normal!

I just love the contrast of the trees. Seen from above they are green, alive, soft & duvet like, then from underneath they are silvery grey, dry and bare.

This is the view down one of the firebreaks between the trees, towards the town with beeehives in the middle. There is strange mixture of the noises of  bees buzzing and the electric pylon crackling…

I love this picture of Rufus looking very regal on a carpet of yellow flowers……..

It is really difficult to get your dog to stay still for a nice photo together. We both have scrunched faces..

He won’t look at the camera..

Usually when I am walking I get inspiration from what I see growing. Recipes suggest themselves to me. Today we saw lots of wild mushrooms growing in the forest. They really are amazing things to look at..

Don’t worry I’m not going to cook with these as I have absolutely no idea what they are, they look great though..

I Love Mushrooms…

A Heart Shaped Mushroom!

The idea for a Wild Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne is forming in my brain. Must be the stinky goat shack….

I am thinking of homemade wholemeal lasgane layered with wild mushrooms cooked with onion, thyme & parsley and a goats cheese bechamel sauce. Its a shame I can’t work the honey from the beehives in there as well. Or maybe I can..

See tomorrow’s post for the finished recipe …

Mushroom, Walnut & Chilli Spaghetti Recipe

29 Sep

This recipe is a real fusion of Italian & Indian techniques & flavours. I’m sure it will have the purists squirming but it tastes really amazing. The idea is to combine the idea of an Italian pesto with an Indian curry paste to create a sauce for wholemeal spaghetti. It is really easy to make and there are endless combinations to try.

Mushroom & Walnut Chilli Spaghetti

Mushroom, Walnut & Chilli Spaghetti Recipe

Serves 2 Vegetarian

  • 300gr assorted mushrooms sliced
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 200gr wholemeal spaghetti

For the Walnut, Chilli & Coriander Pesto/Paste

  • 100gr walnuts
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 red chilli chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ginger paste
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a handful of coriander chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • a little veg stock (or pasta cooking liquid) to thin out the sauce.
  1. Fry the onion in hot oil until translucent.
  2. Add the rest of the pesto ingredients except the coriander and fry for 3 or 4 mins.
  3. Tip the mix into a blender add the coriander & pulse until it forms a paste.
  4. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet
  5. Add a bit more oil to the pesto pan and fry the mushrooms with a squeeze of lemon juice until soft.
  6. Add 2 or 3 tsp of the walnut pesto to the mushrooms with a splash of veg stock or pasta liquid.
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the pesto sauce then stir to combine well.
  8. Serve garnished with fresh coriander.
  9. You will have some of pesto left which can be stored in sealed container in the fridge.

This is a really great flavour combination but there are many more to try. What about Hazelnut,Feta, Pea & Mint or Parsley, Almond & Lemon, Choose a country and pick their well known tried & tested flavours & experiment!

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