Tag Archives: vegan

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread Recipe

12 Dec

Spelt Flour Soda Bread

First of all I am sorry for my lack of posts recently. It’s not that I don’t have anything to share with you it’s that I haven’t had the time. I have been busy writing, testing and perfecting recipes for my cookery workshops. I have one this Saturday which is a Festive Vegetarian Middle Eastern Menu, some of the recipes from which I will share with you soon.

Spelt Flour Soda Bread

We have also just finalised the timetable of workshops for the first three months of 2013. As well as my Vegetarian Mezze Course (the next one being on Sun. 20th Jan 10-2 pm) and my  Healthy Baking Workshop savoury and sweet (the next one is on Sun 3rd Feb 10-2pm), I have also introduced two new ones.

The first new workshop is the second in the series of Healthy Baking courses; Healthy Baking with Chocolate . The first of which is being held on Sat. 2nd March 5 – 9pm.

Splel Flour Soda Bread

The second new workshop I have introduced is called Soups of the World. The first one is on Sat. 26th Jan 5 – 9pm. After all the Christmas excess everyone’s thoughts turn towards lighter and healthier food (and bodies!)

Soups are one of my favourite things to make and eat especially in winter. In this workshop you will learn how to make your own veg stock then we embark on a culinary journey through Thailand, Turkey, Italy & France taking some of the most exciting flavour combinations in the world and converting them into delicious soups, some classics and some more unusual.

Thai Squash Wonton Soup

an aromatic Thai style broth with floating delicate wontons filled with sweet roasted squash, herbs & spices

Turkish Ezogelin Corbasi

a hearty red lentil soup with rice & bulgur flavoured with fresh mint and sumac (with a tragic love story behind it)

Italian Winter Minestrone

the classic “big one” a rustic bowl of goodness topped with a delicious homemade basil pesto

French Onion Soup

deep, dark & sweet caramelised onions with a touch of sherry topped with toasted melting Gruyère croutons

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread

So what do you need to go with all those soups? Bread of course.

Some of you who have been following this blog for a while may already know about my irrational fear of yeast. I can’t make it work properly, ever. Whether it is my well-known impatience, hot hands or even the altitude (We live up a mountain and apparently that can affect the “rise”) I don’t know. And I don’t care anymore because I have found the “get out” that is this soda bread.

Made with soda (obvs) instead of yeast, you have no waiting, no kneading and no disappointment. It’s just dry ingredients, wet ingredients, mix and bake. Hooray.

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread Recipe

Makes 1 small loaf, vegan, wheat-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 25 g (4 Tbsp) flax meal (ground flax seeds) if not add 25 g more flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda (or baking soda)
  • 220 ml (1 cup) oat milk (or soy/rice/almond)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey (or molasses/miel de cana/agave syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • sunflower seeds/flax seeds/sesame seeds for topping
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix the flour, flaxmeal, salt and soda in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk the honey, olive oil, lemon juice and milk until well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix it all together with your fingers or a whisk. It should be quite sticky like a scone dough. Bring it together and tip it out onto a floured surface and form into a round or oval loaf shape.
Transfer to the lined baking sheet, cut a small cross in the top of the bread with a sharp knife, brush with a little extra milk and scatter over your seeds.
Bake for about 25 minutes then lower the heat to 160C and bake for another 10-15 minutes until browned and cooked.
Cool for at least 10 minutes. It slices better if it is completely cool.
Spelt Soda Bread
This is a lovely, soft and quite crumbly nutty bread that is also gorgeous toasted. If you want to try a fruitier version which is brilliant for breakfast try my Flax Seed Raisin & Date Breakfast Loaf too.
Enjoy!!
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Apple, Vanilla and Cinnamon Spelt Flour Galette

5 Dec

Apple Vanilla Galette

Apples, vanilla and cinnamon, enough said really. Heavenly combination whether in a tart or a scented candle. And if you bake the tart you can save the candle for when guests come round because this fills the house with its sweet perfume.

Apple Galette

Or make the tart when guests come round and selfishly save the candle for when you are cosied up on the sofa with a glass of (mulled) wine, perhaps. Either way it’s a winner and cheaper than a scented candle.

Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Galette

I have perfected my sweet spelt flour olive oil pastry recipe using honey instead of sugar so not only is it delicious and beautiful it is also good for you.  This recipe has no sugar, no butter, no dairy and no eggs.  The base is spread with a layer of Kellie’s vanilla apple sauce that I also used in this recipe before overlapping the thinly sliced apples in concentric circles and folding up the edges of the pastry.

Apple Spelt Galette

Apple, Vanilla & Cinnamon Galette Recipe

Makes 1 large galette, Vegan.

For the Vanilla Apple Sauce

  • 500 g apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in small pan,  bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 mins until soft. Puree, taste adjust honey and vanilla to your liking. Leave to cool.

For the Pastry

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • up to 100 ml cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl then slowly drizzle in the oil and honey, mixing & mashing it into the flour with a fork until evenly combined and crumbly.

Slowly pour in the water a bit at a time mixing it with the fork until it comes together (you may not need all the water) then bring it together with your hand, kneading just a little until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not overwork it or it will be tough. You can refrigerate it at this time if you have time.

Roll the pastry 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 the edges of your largest dinner plate and turn it onto the pastry then cut around it so you have  large circle. Carefully remove the circle (roll it onto a floured rolling-pin) and transfer it to the lined baking tray. Put it in the fridge while you prepare the apples. You can make mini ones with any leftover pastry using a saucer or side plate.

  • 2 small apples, peeled, cut into 1/8th wedges, cored then thinly sliced
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 or 4 tbsp vanilla apple sauce (see above)
  • honey/agave syrup
  • water
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Leaving a border around the edge of about 1 – 1 1/2 inches clear, spread about 4 tbsp of the apple sauce evenly over the base of the pastry circle.

Overlap the apple slices in a circle all around the outside edge just inside the border. Then make another overlapping circle of apples going the other direction just inside the first one. Finish off with a mini circle going the same direction as the first in the middle of the circle.

Carefully roll up the edges of the pastry towards the fruit turning the tart or paper as you go until it is all done. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little olive oil and drizzle and brush the apples with a little honey/agave syrup.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is cooked. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then melt a few tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan with a tablespoon of water until it forms a smooth syrup. Paint this all over the fruit to create a shiny glaze and serve the galette warm.

Apple Cinnamon Galette

This is one of the recipes from my Healthy Baking Workshop held a few weeks ago. My next workshop is on Saturday 15th December from 5pm – 9pm at Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena, Malaga. I will be cooking and sharing  recipes from my Festive Christmas Party Menu with Middle Eastern flavour,  the perfect antidote to all that turkey. Great for a crowd, buffet or more intimate dinner party. Here is what we will be cooking….

………………

Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

Roasted Beetroot & Cumin Hummus with Toasted Flatbread Croutons

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Pomegranate, Fresh Herbs & Toasted Almonds

Sweet Potato, Feta & Coriander Filo Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

Jewelled Pumpkin & Saffron Rice Pilaf with Cranberries, Pistachio & Chargrilled  Halloumi

and for dessert

Tarta de Santiago

a traditional light cake (gluten-free & dairy free) made with ground almonds flavoured with orange zest

served with an orange & mandarin sauce

……………………….

Tarta de Santiago

For more information and to reserve your place contact Pepe Kitchen directly.

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“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

2 Dec

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Crouton

It has turned really cold here now so soup is what I want for lunch every day and this is one of our favourites. I have actually managed to get the “caramelising onions” time down from the usual 90 minutes in most recipes to a much more realistic 30 minutes. I am always too hungry to wait that long and this way works perfectly for me.

OnionsPeeling and chopping onions is not the nicest of jobs but I have found that cutting off the root end of an onion and putting it on your head like a little hat stops you from crying so much. It looks really stupid and the top of your head smells of onion but much less mascara wastage I find. This tip was given to me by The Washer Up’s nephew Callum and it actually works. I think he spent a day of child slave labour in a Spanish kitchen peeling onions and that is what he learnt.

French Onion Soup

I should really call this Spanish Onion Soup as the only thing that is French about it is the Gruyère cheese on the crouton. That can easily be replaced by a nice mature Manchego which is what we normally do to be honest. The onions are local, organic, Spanish onions, the olive oil is local too and the sherry I use to deglaze the pan is as Spanish as you can get.

Gruyere Crouton“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons Recipe

Serves 4-6 Vegetarian/Vegan without the cheese

  • 1 1/2 k onions, peeled & finely sliced into half moons
  • 2 0r 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp sweet sherry
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1500 ml veg stock &/or water (I use 1 litre stock 1/2 litre water)
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
  • baguette sliced
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  • grated Gruyère (or manchego) cheese
  • thyme

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, salt, sugar & bay leaves, stir to coat the onions in the oil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits until the onions are a deep dark golden brown colour.

Then add the flour, sherry and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan again to remove all the caramelised sweet bits and cook the sherry for a few minutes. Add the stock and water, season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt, more sugar or even more Worcestershire sauce?

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil, season with a little salt & pepper and toast under a hot grill until lightly browned. Top with a generous handful of grated cheese, a little thyme and put back under the grill to melt and brown slightly. If you have ovenproof soup dishes you could put the croutons topped with grated cheese directly in the soup, add another handful of cheese and put the whole lot back under the grill.

The Washer Up would not be impressed with that though, it makes a right mess of the bowls so we go for the safer option…

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with the melted cheesey croutons on top.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

Enjoy and Stay Warm!

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Fesenjan – A Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

11 Nov

I have been wanting to make a vegetarian version of the savoury and sweet Persian celebration dish, Fesanjan for a long time. It is normally made with chicken or lamb but I have used aubergine and sweet potato as the meat replacements. Pumpkin or squash would also be lovely in this or maybe even some meaty mushrooms.

The reason that I have been desperate to make this is because I love pomegranates. There are hundreds of pomegranate trees were we walk with the dog and The Washer Up is always screaming at me to stop taking photos of them, but I can’t.

“Not another bloody picture of a pomegranate” he says “How many do you need?” he asks impatiently  “You must have thousands already, along with all the pictures of blooming oranges”.

“It’s what I do!” I reply.

This is the perfect dish to showcase the beautiful pomegranates that are plentiful and cheap here at the moment. I use their ruby jewels a lot as a final garnish, like on this Lebanese Lentil Salad where their sweet and sourness pops in your mouth, livens up the whole dish and, of course, they look lovely. I have also topped this Savoury Feta Cheesecake with a generous glistening pile of them for an impressively dramatic but surprisingly easy to prepare dinner party dish.

In this dish though it’s the juice that gets to take a leading role. Traditionally pomegranate molasses (a reduced thickened pomegranate syrup) would be used but I can’t seem to find any here. I used the juice of four pomegranates and some veg stock as the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked. Along with the ground walnuts that thicken the stew while it cooks, these are the two most important ingredients in the recipe. They give it colour, texture and flavour.

You can obviously buy pomegranate juice in a carton if you like, but I wanted to try it with my beloved pomegranates. Juicing a pomegranate is quite a mission but you get used to it. I did most of it on my normal hand orange juicer, bursting any jewels left in the top of the juicer and squishing the juice out with my fingers. I then squeezed what was left in the fruit directly into the pot by hand. I got about 500 ml of juice from four big pomegranates.

Fesanjan – Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew Recipe

Serves 4. Vegan, Gluten-free.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large aubergine 300 g, cut in 1-2 cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato 400 g, scrubbed, cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • salt & black pepper
  • 200 g walnuts, finely ground in a processor plus some chopped for garnish
  • the juice of four pomegranates (about 500 ml) reserve some jewels for garnish
  • 500 ml stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • fresh parsley leaves to serve

Heat the oil, in a large pot, over a medium heat and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for about 4 mins until softened, then add the spices, cook for a minute or so (add a splash of stock if it’s dry), then add the ground walnuts, aubergine & sweet potato. Stir to coat in the spices then add the pomegranate juice and stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the lid then simmer again for 25-30 mins until the sauce is thickened, it shouldn’t be liquidy.

Taste for seasoning, it should be quite sweet and a little sour. Add more salt, lemon or honey/sugar until you are happy. Serve garnished with pomegranate jewels, chopped walnuts and a few parsley leaves. This isn’t authentic but it isn’t the prettiest of dishes otherwise, it’s very brown so the pomegranate seeds brighten it up a bit.

Serve with some plain rice and a herby green salad like the ones we served the lovely Iranian family that we cooked for over the summer. They use herb leaves whole as a salad leaf rather than as a garnish. I topped it with pomegranate seeds obviously, but then I am obsessed. Apparently.

I hope they approve of my vegetarian version of Fesenjan!

Gingerbread Parkin with Vanilla Apple Sauce

9 Nov

The Washer Up has been going on about how wonderful Parkin is for ever. It’s a northern thing you see. As in, from the north of England, specifically the north-west. Yorkshire and Lancashire if you want to be precise. And they will want it to be precise. I am sure there will be comments about its origin and claims that it is definitely from Yorkshire or undenialbly from Lancashire.  I’m a soft southerner so I couldn’t give a “monkey’s” as they say down south.

So when I saw this recipe for it on one of my favourite food blogs, Kellie’s Food to Glow, this week I was desperate to give it a try. It’s traditionally served on Bonfire night – November 5th, which also happens to be our friend, Jeannes birthday. There was my excuse, as if I needed one. It was enough just to see the smile on his face. Honestly.

The Vanilla Apple Sauce that Kellie serves it with is genius. It’s like a vegan custard, a thick vanilla-y custardy apple sauce that we served warm with the hot slices of gingerbread parkin. And a sneaky scoop of vanilla ice cream if you must know. Well it was a birthday dessert.

Parkin is traditionally served cold and spread with a little butter according to The Washer Up. Whichever way it is delicious but you have to leave it wrapped up to mature for at least 3 days before you eat it.  So be patient and organised for a change because the stickiness you get is really worth the wait.

I deviated from Kellie’s recipe slightly by using half coconut oil (not very northern at all!) and half dairy-free margarine because I didn’t have enough margarine. I also used half honey because I didn’t have enough golden syrup and used wholemeal spelt flour instead of plain. It’s a wonder that I managed get anywhere near the original really but this is obviously a very forgiving recipe. No complaints from this end!!

Gingerbread Parkin Recipe

Enough for a 10″ loaf tin or an 8″ square baking tin. Adapted from Food to Glow

  • 100 g butter or dairy free margarine (I used 50g coconut oil/50g marg)
  • 100 g black treacle/molasses/miel de cana
  • 200 g golden syrup/agave syrup (I used 100g syrup/100g honey)
  • 75 g palm sugar/dark brown sugar
  • 200 g flour sieved with 2 1/4 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt (I used wholemeal spelt flour)
  • 100 g medium oatmeal (I blended my normal oats to finer powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 10 pieces/cubes crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp oat milk (or other milk)

Preheat the oven to 140C. Oil and completely line your baking/loaf tin with baking paper.

In a large heavy pan, melt the butter (or replacements), treacle, syrup and sugar over a low-ish  heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the melted buttery syrup, stirring together well. Beat together the eggs and milk and pour this in too. Fold all of this through until well incorporated and pour the whole lot into your lined tin.

Bake for 90 minutes until a deep golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Then leave it to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

When cool, wrap it up in its baking parchment, then in two layers of foil and leave it in a cool dry place for at least 3 days but up to a week.

Good luck with that, I managed 2 1/2 days but it really does get better and stickier and more moist the longer you leave it wrapped up so don’t eat it straight away. It won’t be the same!!

Vanilla Apple Sauce Recipe

Vegan, gluten-free.

  • 500 g apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 tbsp agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter/margarine

Put the apples, water, syrup/honey and vanilla in a pan and cook gently for about 15 mins until the apples are soft then stir in the butter. You can use it as it is, if you like it chunky. Mash it up a bit more or blend it to give it a smoother creamier consistency. Taste and add more honey, vanilla or a squeeze of lemon juice to tart it up a bit. Serve it warm, or room temperature, with a slice of the parkin.

Have a Lovely Weekend!!

Spiced Beetroot Soup with Herb Spiked Feta on Rye Crostini

7 Nov

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

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 Quince, Fennel Seed and Pistachio Sambousek Pastries

29 Oct

I made these little pastries using the Persian Quince Jam from last post but you could use any jam you like. I have used this lovely fig & honey compote before too which is great if you don’t like using sugary jams.

Sambouseks are little samosa-like pastries that are normally savoury and filled with meat or cheese. I made these savoury Fig & Feta Sambouseks before, so this is just a little step in a sweeter direction. The picture below is of the savoury sambouseks and demonstrates the folding technique.

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed & Pistachio Sambousek Pastries Recipe

Makes 16-20 pastries. Vegetarian/Vegan.

  • 225 g (1 1/2 cups) white spelt flour (or normal)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • jam/compote/carne de membrillo
  • feta cheese or ricotta or queso fresco (optional)
  • honey or agave syrup
  • a handful of pistachios, very finely chopped

Sieve the flour sugar and salt into a large bowl then stir in the fennel seeds. Add the olive oil, mixing it in with a fork then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the warm water. With your hand, fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until you get a sticky dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, 1 or 2 minutes. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment brushed with a little oil.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll the dough out until it is about 2mm thick. Cut out small circles about 3 inches in diameter (use a floured cutter or a glass). Lift the excess pastry away from the circles  and re-roll it and cut out more circles. Keep doing this until you have used most of the dough. You should get 16-20 in total depending on the thickness of your dough.

Put the circles on the lined baking tray and, using a teaspoon place a small amount of jam in the centre of the circle and top with a little cheese (if using). Lift up the two opposite edges and seal them above the filling. Seal the two other ends by pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek. (See picture above). They can be refrigerated at this point if necessary.

Brush the tops of the sambouseks with a little olive oil and bake for 15 -25 minutes until golden and cooked. Leave to cool slightly then brush the tops with honey or agave syrup and dip them in the finely chopped pistachios.

Serve the sweet sambouseks warm or at room temperature with a glass of fresh mint tea or Turkish coffee.

Enjoy!!

Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast

27 Oct

Quince are  large yellow knobbly apple-shaped fruits that have a slightly floral flavour and ripen in the Autumn. On the tree they have a white furry layer over their skin that will probably be rubbed off if you see them for sale. You see old Spanish ladies buying  bags full at the market. They will be boiling up huge pots of them to make Carne de Membrillo, a sweet quince paste that is traditionally served with a nice cured Manchego cheese. Chica Andaluza has the recipe if you are interested.

I fancied making something a little different with my very modest single kilo of the fragrant fruit. It’s a very similar thing but comes via Persia to this table.

As I have mentioned before, in the summer we were cooking lunch for an Iranian family for a few weeks. We used to arrive every morning at about 11am  after shopping for the day’s food. As we were unpacking the shopping they would still be finishing off their breakfast. Breakfast was a long and luxurious family occasion that I found fascinating. The table was generously laid with breads, cheeses, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt, tahini and cinnamon pancakes that one of the husbands made every day. A bowl of Bran Flakes and a quick cup of coffee it was not.

The family live in different cities all over the world but meet up once a year for a holiday together. On the first night, the Grandma arrived from Paris on a very late flight carrying a huge jar (like 5 litres) of something that looked like homemade chutney or jam. How on earth did she get that through customs? The daughters and granddaughters were very pleased though, it was obviously a family favourite that no holiday would be complete without.

I found out the next morning, when they let me taste some, that it was a very special quince jam that their Grandma had always made that they all loved. It took pride of place every morning on that amazing breakfast table. A perfect match for the cheese, like our very own Dulce de Membrillo.

She didn’t speak any English and my French is very rusty but I managed to get that there was cardamom in there, I could see the little black seeds too. The recipe is obviously a very closely guarded family secret because she always very politely managed to avoid telling me anything more. It was delicious, I can see why she was so protective of it.

So this is a recipe I found on the internet, it tastes very similar but not as good as Grandma’s obviously. The quince flesh turns from a very pale yellow when raw to a bright coral or even a rich ruby-red when cooked. It depends how long you cook it for and how often you open the lid. If you cover the pot with a tea towel and then put on the lid while cooking (and don’t peek) it goes darker like mine. I may have overdone it slightly I think.

Persian Quince Jam Recipe

Makes about 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • I used 4 quince (about 900 g), washed, cored & cubed or sliced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed to open them
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 tbsp rosewater

Remove any dark bits in the fruit and squeeze half the lemon over the chopped pieces to stop discolouration.

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.  Add a splash more water if it is drying out.

Add the ground cardamom, the bashed cardamom pods and the quince to the sugar syrup, stir well, bring back to the boil and add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the top with a tea towel then put on the lid. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until reduced and jam-like. Check it very occasionally and stir gently.

Add a tablespoon of rosewater and simmer for another few minutes. Carefully taste and add more rosewater if you like.

Pour or spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. When cool store in the fridge.

Serve for breakfast with a creamy smooth cheese or yoghurt on toasted bread. Or go for the whole breakfast feast and fill the table with fresh fruit, gorgeous breads, a selection of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon pancakes.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely weekend breakfast.

Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread

22 Oct

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.

Pink Roses & Acorns, there’s got to be a recipe in there somewhere….

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

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Chica Andaluza

Sometimes Up a Mountain in Andalucia and sometimes Down by the Sea on the English South Coast

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