Tag Archives: salsa

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes with salsa, raita and red onion maramalade

2 Mar

It’s so good to be back in the kitchen after three weeks of eating out every day. The first recipe inspired by our trip to South Africa is for these beautiful Butternut and Chickpea Cakes that we enjoyed at Ile de Pain in Knysna. You can read my review of this fantastic place here.

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Light, spicy and delicious they are fantastic with the trio of sauces. The spicy tomato and chilli salsa, the cool and creamy cucumber and coriander raita and the sweet red onion maramalade. They all compliment each other so well to create a perfectly well balanced combination of flavours that really dance in your mouth.

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You can use any sweet fruit chutney you have knocking around instead of the marmalade if you don’t have the patience, time or inclination to make you own. But if you do have the time it is a great thing to have in your fridge. Serve it with any burgers or patties, with a grilled goat’s cheese salad or transform a cheese sandwich into a gourmet experience by topping it with a spoonful of red onion marmalade and a handful of rocket or watercress leaves.

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Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes Recipe
Serves 4 (12 patties), vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free. Adapted from the Ile de Pain recipe.
Prep Time: 30 mins (plus 1 hr in the fridge if possible) Cooking Time: 10 mins

400 gr butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1-2 cm cubes
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
40 gr (1/3 cup) polenta/cornmeal (or breadcrumbs) plus extra for coating
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the squash cubes onto the tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle it over the squash. Toss it all together with your hands so it is evenly coated. Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden and soft when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl then tip the cooked squash into the bowl as well. Mix everything together well with your hands, squishing the squash and chickpeas to create a mushy but still a bit chunky mixture. Squish until the mixture comes together and holds it’s shape.

At this point you can cover the surface of the mixture directly with cling film and refrigerate for an hour or until needed. It will firm up in the fridge and be easier to work with but you can make them straight away if you can’t wait. Meanwhile make the sauces (see recipes below).

Divide and shape the mixture into 12 equal patties (about 60 gr. each). Pour some polenta (or breadcrumbs) onto a large flat plate and lightly dip the patties into the polenta on each side as well as rolling the sides in it too.

Heat about 1/2 cm of olive oil in a frying pan until hot then turn it down to medium and cook the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.

Serve immediately with the trio of sauces and some salad leaves.

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Red Onion Marmalade Recipe
Makes 1 big jar (about 500 ml), vegan, gluten-free.
Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 90 mins

1.25 kg red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
65 gr raw cane sugar (or white sugar)
185 gr brown sugar
280 ml cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Put the onions in a large pan on a low heat, stir occasionally and cook gently for 30-40 minutes until soft.

Add the sugars and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally until thick and jammy (about 45 mins).

Stir in the salt, pepper and thyme and spoon into sterilised jars. Leave to cool then store in the fridge.

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Cucumber, Coriander & Lemon Raita
Serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep Time: 5 mins

250 ml Greek yoghurt (2 pots)
about 10 cm cucumber cucumber, deseeded & finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely grated (or to taste)
4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and taste. Adjust salt & lemon juice as necessary.

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Tomato & Chilli Salsa
Serves 4, vegan, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep time: 5 mins
2 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2-1 chilli, finely chopped (depending on you and the chilli)
2 spring onions, green & white parts, finely chopped
2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt & black pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, they’re really good, thanks Ile de Pain!

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Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red and Green Pepper Salsa

27 May

At the restaurant we aways had some sort of fish cake on the menu and they were always best sellers. One of the most memorable ones for me were the Creole Crab Cakes that we served with a roasted red pepper mayo. There was something about the combination of Creole seasoning, fresh thyme and finely diced peppers that everyone loved.

Everyone except for Nik the Chef.  He hated making them. They were a bit (ok a lot) of a nightmare because the peppers would leak their liquid into the crab cakes and make them soggy so Nik had to spend hours finely dicing peppers and then meticulously drying them out on kitchen towel before combining them with the crab meat. He hated me for coming up with those crab cakes, but the customers loved them.

I was reminded of those crab cakes when I saw a recipe for chickpea fritters on A Little Bit Crunchy. Hers were Mexican in flavour but they had diced red pepper in them which is what caught my eye. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, after all I never ate a whole crab cake because I was vegetarian. I only ever tried a little bit to see if it tasted how I wanted it to.

So I made some Creole seasoning which I added to a jar of cooked chickpeas that I had blended to a puree. I added some fresh thyme and started to finely dice a red and green pepper, a spring onion, garlic & chilli. I stirred a few handfuls of the diced veg into the chickpea mix, but not too much, I didn’t want the mixture to be too wet.  I used the rest of the diced peppers etc to make a salsa to accompany the chickpea fritters by adding a chopped tomato, lemon juice & some Creole seasoning. I used chickpea flour to dust the fritters and then mould them into patties to keep it gluten-free but you can use flour and breadcrumbs if you like.

Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red & Green Pepper Salsa

makes 6-8 patties, vegan, gluten-free

For the Creole seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well to combine.

For the Chickpea Fritters:

  • 1 jar/tin 400 gr cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning (see above)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely diced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 spring garlic or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • the juice of half  a lemon
  • 1 big tomato, finely diced
  • salt
  • chickpea flour/besan/gram flour for dusting
  • olive oil for frying

Put the rinsed, drained chickpeas in a bowl or processor and blend until smoothish. Mix the diced peppers, spring onions, garlic and chilli together in a bowl and add a couple of small handfuls to the chickpeas with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the thyme leaves. Stir everything together so well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Tip some chickpea flour onto a plate and shape the mix into patties about 1/2 inch thick. Then dust the patties in the flour and put in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes. (No longer or the peppers will start to leak their juice and the patties will be too wet).

Meanwhile make the salsa by adding a finely diced tomato to the rest of the diced veg with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the juice of half a lemon. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

To cook the fritters, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the fritters for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Serve with the pepper salsa and a green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…

A Shetland pony and her new foal…

A white dolomite rock and delicate magenta flowers…..

South American Bean Cakes with Arepa Bun and Tomato Chilli Salsa

19 Apr

 As promised, here is what to make with the rest of that can of kidney beans. I first made this recipe for Brazilian Bean Croquettes last summer during the World Cup. I decided I was going to make a lunch and dinner every day from the countries that were playing in the afternoon or evening game. It was quite a challenge especially being vegetarian but I really started to enjoy it and we ate some amazingly diverse food. From Cape Malay Samoosas, Jollif Rice from Ghana, German potato pancakes but the most memorable were these Bean Cakes from Brazil.

I have adjusted the original recipe slightly because it included breadcrumbs. As you know I am going gluten-free this month so no breadcrumbs for me. I used chickpea flour instead to coat the cakes but the breadcrumbs definitely give it extra crunch, so you decide.

To keep with the South American theme I wanted to try making Arepas. Arepas are a kind of bread pattie made from a special type of cornmeal. They are very popular in Venezuela, Columbia and the rest of Latin America. They can be grilled baked or fried and are usually stuffed or topped with cheese, eggs, meat or fish. Not that I needed any encouragement to try making these but the packet of the cornmeal is irresistable.

How cute? I actually bought the packet without realising it was for making Arepas just because I like the design. It’s not normal corn flour or cornmeal its precooked. Just look out for this packaging. You can’t miss it.  It’s really easy to make the arepas you just add hot water and salt to the corn meal and bring it together to form a stiff dough. Cut it into four then roll them into balls.

Wet your hands with some more hot water and roll the ball in your palm until smooth. Then press it out into a disc shape. Using more hot water (to glue it)  if it starts to crack at the edges.

To cook them I just heated a little oil in a frying pan and cooked them for 6 -7 minutes turning occasionally until they have what the Latin Americans call a cara (face).  And they really do develop a face, it’s hilarious…

I may have had the heat a little too high, but you get the idea.  Take them out of the pan and then keep them warm/continue cooking them for five or 10 minutes in the oven. Then slice like an English muffin. You can fill them with whatever you like but these bean cakes are great topped with a spicy tomato chilli salsa & some mashed avocado with lime juice.

Add some leaves and the spicy bean cake and you have a delicious vegan, gluten-free  Brazilian burger in a bun. Sometimes you need this kind of food. The kind of food you eat with your hands in front of the football. Or is it just me?

Brazilian Bean Cakes

makes 4 small cakes enough for 2 people, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 300 gr red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 or 5 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree, passata)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander

Blend the beans and tomate frito (puree/passata) in a bowl or food processor. Heat the oil over a medium high heat and fry the onion with a pinch of salt until well browned (5- 8 minutes).  Stir the chickpea flour into the onions then add the bean puree, oregano, chilli, coriander and season well with salt & black pepper.

Cook until the mixture holds it’s shape and comes together. Cool, covered in the fridge then shape into 4 patties. Put some chickpea flour on a flat plate and roll and dust the cakes with the flour while shaping them. (You can also roll in flour, egg & breadcrumbs if you want) Then put them back in the fridge to chill.

Heat 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook until browned on both sides. About 3 minutes a side.

Arepa Buns

makes 4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 ml hot water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225 gr masa harina flour (precooked corn flour see photo above)
  • about 1 tbsp oil for frying

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and gradually add the hot/warm water, mixing with a wooden spoon to form a stiff dough. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then cut into four and roll into balls. You may need to wet your hands with some more hot water to make it easier. Flatten the balls with the palm of your hands into discs about 3 inches in diameter about 3/4 inch thick. Use the hot water to smooth out any cracks around the edges.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the arepas for about 6-8 minutes turning 3 or 4 times until they are golden & crispy and have a cara, face. Drain on paper towels then put in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes while you cook the bean cakes.

Tomato Chilli Salsa & Avocado Puree

enough for 4 bean cake arepas, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic/ young garlic green parts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree/passata)
  • salt & black pepper

Blend everything together in a bowl or processor. Check seasoning and add more salt/lime juice/olive oil if necessary.

  • 1 small avocado
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • salt & black pepper
  • chilli oil

Put everything in a bowl and mash together with a fork. Taste for seasoning.

To serve cut the arepa through the middle, spread tomato chilli salsa on one side and the avocado puree on the other. Put the bean cake in the arepa, add some leaves, close, squash down and devour, trying not to get tomato salsa down your front…..!

Black Bean Chilli with Avocado Lime Salsa

12 Apr

 I bought a pack of dried black beans last week because, as you know, I am doing a detox which means lots of beans, chickpeas, lentils etc. As I have mentioned before, I have got a bit of a habit of buying dried legumes and then never using them, therefore I have a cupboard full of loads of different types of dals, beans and lentils. I was determined, this time, to use them straight away because I’ve never cooked with black beans before. Not just because I couldn’t fit them in the cupboard…

I did a bit of research and found out that most people advise soaking the beans overnight before cooking them, so this is what I did. Very organised of me, I know. I think it cuts down on the cooking time. A lot of colour comes out of the beans into the water which is quite alarming, you discard this water and cook the beans in clean water or a mixture of water & stock, which is what I did.  Another tip is not to season the beans until they are nearly cooked. If you cook them in salted water it makes them tough apparently.

I had to go Mexican on the flavours here. I lot of the recipes I saw using black beans were for soup which you can easily do by adding more stock or water. I wanted something a bit more substantial for dinner. You could also serve it with some corn tortillas/nachos for scooping up the chilli and avocado salsa which would be great for entertaining. Put a big bowl of the chilli with a dish of the avocado salsa and a pile of corn tortillas/nachos and any other extras like grated cheese, sour cream, chopped spring onions and fresh coriander on the  table. Just let everyone help themselves “family style”.

Black Bean Chilli with Avocado Lime Salsa

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 250 gr dried black beans (you can used 500 gr cooked just rinse and drain them and add them in with the tinned tomatoes and a bit of veg stock)
  • 500 ml clean water
  • 500 ml veg stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or more if you like)
  • 2 or 3 tbsp chipotle chilli salsa (or chipotle chillis in adobo)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 150 gr sweetcorn
  • 2 or 3 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • green parts of spring onion finely chopped for garnish
  • coriander leaves for garnish

Rinse the beans and pick out any foreign bodies. Put them in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight.

Drain the beans and put them in a saucepan with the veg stock and clean water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1- 1 & 1/2 hours until the beans are tender.

When the beans are nearly cooked heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat then add the cumin seeds & coriander seeds. When they start to pop add the onion, celery, carrot and green pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened and the onions are translucent then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in the tomato puree, chipotle salsa, chilli powder, ground cumin, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and tinned tomatoes. Season well with salt & black pepper and add sweetcorn.

When the beans are cooked remove two ladles full of beans and stock to a bowl or processor and blend until smooth.  If the rest of the beans are really liquidy tip out some of the cooking liquid and reserve it in case you need it later. Pour the blended beans back into the rest of the beans, stir and add into the tomato mixture. Cook for a further 10 minutes and then check seasoning. (You can add back some of the bean cooking liquid or veg stock now if you want it more soupy).

For the Avocado Lime Salsa

  • 1 avocado, roughly mashed
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 red chilli,deseeded & finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh coriander, leaves & stalks, finely chopped

Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl and taste for seasoning. More lime/salt/ chilli/coriander?

Serve in warmed bowls topped with a dollop of the avocado salsa, some chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.

The black beans have a lovely flavour and a surprising creaminess which makes this a really comforting, spicy dish perfect to eat in front of the TV with a spoon or equally good for casual entertaining.

And if you needed any more incentive: Avocados are rich in vitamin E and alphacarotene, both powerful antioxidants that help prevent furring of the arteries and heart disease. They also contain monounsaturated fat which lowers blood cholesterol as well as essential omega 6 fats that promote healthy skin. People have commented on how well I look, it must be the avocados….!!

Baked Feta with Mango Salsa Recipe

6 Oct

Having been inspired by my Dad’s comment on my “70’s” Stuffed Tomatoes recipe about bringing back the cheese & pineapple on a foil hedgehog, I have called his bluff & brought it up to date! 

We have a mountain of our homegrown scotch bonnet chilli peppers in the freezer & I had been thinking about doing a Caribbean inspired dish using them & the mango I have in my fridge. I was watching a programme called Caribbean Food made Easy (I think) where they cooked fish with Caribbean spices in foil on the barbecue & served it with a mango salsa. Obviously I don’t eat fish so I had to come up with replacement for it which is when I remembered the Foil Baked Feta recipe in Vicky Bhoghal’s book Flavour which is delicious. It was all starting to come together… 

Feta Ready for the Oven

 

Baked Feta & Mango Salsa Recipe 

Serves 2 Vegetarian 

For the Feta: 

  • 200gr block Greek Feta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic chopped
  • 1  small scotch bonnet chilli (deseeded & chopped) you can use any fresh chilli or dried 1/2 tsp
  •  a sprig of thyme leaves
  • some coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Some crusty bread  for mopping up the juices
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Tear off a large piece of foil, put the feta in the middle and add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Make a little pouch by folding up the foil and bake for 10 mins

Meanwhile make the Mango Salsa: 

  • 1 mango chopped
  • the other half of the tomato
  • the other half of the garlic clove
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 chilli deseeded & chopped(you can’t use a scotch bonnet as the heat only comes out when they are cooked)
  •  a handful of chopped coriander
  • a handful of chopped fresh mint
  • salt & black pepper
  1. Mix everything together in a bowl, taste for seasoning, and place in  a serving dish or bowl.

Mango Salsa

 

Baked Feta & Mango Salsa

 

Enjoy this straight away and imagine yourself on a Caribbean/Greek island! 

Obviously you can keep it real with Greek flavours in the pouch, oregano, parsley, chopped olives, whatever you fancy, just make it gorgeous…

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