Archive | Vegetarian (if you want) RSS feed for this section

Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Nuoc Cham

18 Jun

Negligence is becoming my middle name.

I am honestly starting to believe that my list of things to do would make anyone stop in their tracks and blink, dazedly. Even the person who is convinced they are the worst procrastinator in the world! I’m worse than that!!! I’m sure if I wrote it all out, it would cover miles of land… I’m picturing one of those enormous scrolls in cartoons that start out looking normal and average-sized, but with a shake of the wrist that unravels the lot… it is clearly formidable to the point of unrealistic goal-setting.

My excuses to avoid getting on with important things recently:

  • My birthday! 😀

097

  • The love’s birthday, and his mom’s

093

  • Dog-sitting

087

Me and this bundle of beautiful have totally bonded. I want one of her.

088

He, on the other hand, is like a little old man. Adorable though.

090

And hilarious.

  • The BBC Good Food Show/Gardener’s World!

024

017

029

023

034

050

026

031

(Haha :D)

  • Symphony Hall

056

  • Misc.

Especially the last one. Gosh how that takes up my time!

Included in the ‘misc’ category is Pinterest. Damn you Pinterest I never thought I’d get drawn in! I am weak when it comes to websites laden with beautiful images and ideas… Pinterest is where I found this incredible recipe 🙂

078

Which is actually one of those things I would happily have gotten round to earlier, only I couldn’t find black sesame seeds in any of my local shops 😦 and they make the finished dish look so pretty! Don’t you think? Luckily The Good Food Show was just around the corner and of course it didn’t let me down 😀 Thanks BBC Good Food! (Hire me!) ((Jokes, so not qualified)). You could of course buy some online.

Still, I made it a couple of days ago and I guess it taught me a lesson about striking while the iron is hot when another blogger I follow wrote about the same recipe this morning!!! Now that’s a bit frustrating when I had it all planned.

Oh, what’s that? Your now desperate to follow me on both Tumblr AND Pinterest!? Awesome! Don’t be shy, there’s links to both on the right hand side of my WordPress 😛 just in case you can’t find them I’ve totally helped you out by adding the links above too 😀

Anyhow, here’s my version:

Serves 2.

  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs (panko would be best)
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • oil for frying

For the Nuoc Cham:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 fiery chillies (Thai if you can find them), de-seeded (if preferred) and thinly sliced

To Serve:

  • Chopped mixed vegetables (I used spring onions, carrot, sweet red pepper and mushrooms)
  • Noodles or rice
  1. First you need to drain your tofu in whichever way you like to do so. I place mine between 2 chopping boards in the sink and balance something heavy on the top. I would recommend you do this at least an hour before you plan to start cooking.
  2. At least half an hour before planning to eat, make the nuoc cham so the flavours have enough time to become well acquainted. Simply whisk all of the ingredients together and taste. It should be salty (but not too salty), full of interesting flavours, and with subtly ensuing heat from the chillies. The finer you chop the garlic and the chillies, the stronger tasting these aspects of the finished sauce will be.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tsp water. In a larger bowl, mix the sesame seeds and bread crumbs with the salt.
  4. Slice the (now much firmer) tofu. I like mine to be in chunky cubes – you decide how you like yours and adjust cooking times accordingly. One at a time, dip each piece of tofu into the egg. Scrape off any excess, then roll it around in the bread crumb mixture. Put to one side while you finish the others.
  5. Heat some oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and fry the tofu pieces for about 2 minutes on each side (if following my lead with chunky cubes). Serve with the nuoc cham, veggies and carbs of your choosing 🙂

The nuoc cham is, I think, meant to be used as a dipping sauce, but – tell me if it’s just me – I don’t have the patience for this at dinner time. At dinner time, I’m hungry and I want a bowl full of food. So I used it as a pouring sauce 🙂 make sure you distribute it evenly though if you do it this way, to avoid pungency overload on top and blandness on the bottom.

083

Unless there is tofu on the bottom – this stuff is not bland in the slightest! I just mean bland in comparison to the mouth-puckeringness of the sauce 🙂 The tofu is amazingly crisp, then meltingly moreish. It is perfect and I will make it again many, many times.

And I’m just realising that I should have put a disclaimer at the start of this post: Loads of pictures! Looooong post!

Thanks for reading 😀

Bye!

Early Summer Soup with Honey Beer Bread

6 Jun

This is the first time in a while I’ve made something that has given me a sense of achievement.

I’ve done lots of cake baking for birthdays, thank you gifts and other various occasions… and they’ve been pretty successful, but A.) they weren’t my recipes and B.) I have been slacking once again at meal times! So I’ve been guilt-tripping over that one a bit…

Here I have made a beautiful, light, full of goodness vegetable soup which is easy peasy lemon squeezy. And you might even want a squeeze of lemon in it actually…

003

Here is the recipe:

Serves 4 (with honey beer bread)

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 100g green beans
  • 100g asparagus tips
  • 1 tin artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring, until softened.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and vegetable stock, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  3. When the soup has been cooking for 15-20 minutes, put a pan of water on to boil and cook the green beans and asparagus for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the veg and add to the soup mixture with the chopped artichoke hearts and thyme. Cook for a minute or so then serve with bread.

It is just the perfect thing for a warm, breezy day like today when you are in the mood to celebrate the good, seasonal produce 🙂

I also chucked in a few slices of courgette as we had a little to use up in the fridge. It was good! Play around with the veggies, they like it.

Now for the accompaniment!

001

Oh my God.

It is the quickest, easiest, most beautiful bread I have ever made in my life, and if you were worrying about being hungry after a vegetable soup, don’t be – this bread will help you out.

It is quick because there is no need to knead (heh..) and no need to let it rise either. All you do is mix up the ingredients in a special and magical order, put it in a tin and bake! The outside becomes all biscuity thanks to the butter that is poured all over it…

Oh God.

There I go again saying His name in vain. But this bread!!! My mouth is watering and I just ate some!

Recipe uses cups as I was inspired byyyy filingawaycupcakes who I assume is from overseas 🙂

And I am too lazy to convert…

Makes 1 loaf.

  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 cups beer (I used Oxford Gold organic beer)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and fetch out a loaf tin. Pour 2 tbsp of the butter on to the bottom of the tin, then brush it all around the sides until it is nicely greased.
  2. In a (not small, not enormous) mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and give them a whirl so they all have chance to meet each other. Next, add the honey and beer, and give it a good old stir with as big old spoon. Use your hands if any of the dry stuff is stubbornly refusing to mix with the wet stuff.
  3. Place the dough into your loaf tin, and pour the remaining butter over the top. I LOVE THIS PART!!! Then bake it for approx. 50 minutes, but check on it before you take it out just to make sure it’s done.

002

Ermagherd! (Which I understand is a popular phrase right now?).

It has just occurred to me that this may not be the best bread to give to children. Simply because having read this post back… you know, I can’t 100% say I haven’t been affected by the beer.

I SO hope you make this!

Bye 😀

xxxxxxx

Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Pepper Tart with Walnut Pastry

26 May

I happened across the idea for a goat’s cheese, walnut and roasted pepper sandwich. Tried it, loved it, wanted it in a tart!

NOT a confident pastry chef, I am always apprehensive when attempting to make pastry from scratch, but the recipe I used for this shortcrust is just amazing. It made pastry easy! And delicious of course. I know you can just buy the stuff but it bothers me so much when I can’t get something right it makes me even more stubborn to keep trying. It’s a recipe from a ‘Basics’ book I borrowed from the library, and is interwoven with the recipe for the filling which is mine.

This serves 4 and makes enough pastry to line a 23cm flan tin.

For the Pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten, plus extra for brushing

For the Filling:

  • 150ml log soft, rindless goat’s cheese
  • 70g roasted peppers from a jar, drained
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  1. Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg and about 1-2 tbsp water to form a soft dough. Knead briefly, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling, beat the eggs with the milk. Roughly crumble the walnuts and goat’s cheese and add this to the egg mixture. Roughly chop the peppers and add most of these, along with any seasoning you might like.
  3. Heat the oven to 200ºc. Knead the pastry again and roll it out to the required size. This pastry doesn’t shrink so there is no need to chill it! Brush the base and sides with beaten egg.
  4. Put the flan tin on a baking sheet and bake blind for 5 minutes (do not use baking paper or baking beans as this would stick to the egg wash). Add the filling and bake for 15 minutes more. Now turn the heat down to 180°c and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly set.

022

Serve with salad! 🙂

Luscious, Cinnamony Sweet Potato Tagine

9 May

Ghillie Basan is one of my favourite food writers, and not least because Moroccan food is one of my favourite things to cook!

But this is my favourite recipe BY FAR that I have used from her book Tagines and Couscous – and I’ve made a fair few now!

It was difficult for me to decide what to call this meal because every ingredient is a star and combines so beautifully with the others… The only word I could really settle on was luscious because, well… that is exactly what it is! I did however really and truly believe with my whole heart that luscious was spelt with an ‘h’ after the ‘sc’. *sigh* I was so much better at spelling when I was 10…

So yes, if I was being super fair and diplomatic to all of the highly deserving ingredients in this recipe I would call it ‘Tagine of Sweet Potato, Shallots, Carrots, Prunes, Cinnamon, Ginger, Honey and Mint – Syrupy and with a Hint of Coriander’. But it’s quite a mouthful. No pun intended. But it really is an amazing mouthful.

Anyway, the reason I picked cinnamon and sweet potato for the title is that the former just permeated the house with its sweet and mouth-watering smell, making me feel as though I was been taken under in a haze of Moroccan balminess… *another sigh* (if only!)… and the latter simply because it makes up the bulk of the meal. Well hey, people need some idea of what’s really going on!

076

So, here’s how you make it:

🙂

Serves 2 generously, or 4 as a side dish for grilled/roasted meat.

  • olive oil
  • 20g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 2 small-medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • handful ready-to-eat stoned pruned (about 60g)
  • 2 tsp dark, runny honey or agave
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • a few fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat some olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Add the ginger and cinnamon – cook for a minute then toss in the shallots. When the shallots begin to colour, add the sweet potato and carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add the prunes and honey. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes.
  2. Uncover and stir in the mint and coriander. Season to taste and reduce the liquid, if necessary, by cooking for a few minutes uncovered. The vegetables should be tender and slightly caramelized in a very syrupy sauce.

074

075

 

Most often I would serve this with couscous and toasted flaked almonds, but we were OUT OF COUSCOUS! I know, shocker! So instead we had it with red and white quinoa – really yummy! Though it does smell a bit weird… It worked, just so’s you know 🙂

And finally, may I just plead with you – if you are using a brand new tagine, PLEASE treat it beforehand and be careful when adjusting it’s temperature so it doesn’t crack and momentarily destroy your life. Been there… just saying…

I am going to make this so many times!!!

Fig Tarts with St. Agur

24 Feb

Have you ever been so proud of a meal you’ve made that you eat it while smugly thinking that some poor head chef must know that something is missing from their menu, but they don’t yet know that it is the very thing you have in your mouth right now?

Well it might just be me and I am exaggerating of course (my ego is miniscule really!) but I was in dire need of a boost in the kitchen and have been for some time – this did the trick!

I’d been planning to make this for months before I finally got round to it (due to my current mindset encouraging an “oh why bother let’s just have pasta” approach to cooking), and my original intentions were to make the pastry from scratch and to use goat’s cheese. I do enjoy making pastry from scratch, especially shortcrust as I don’t tend to have disasters with that, but yesterday was very busy and so I grabbed a pack of ready-made. No crime at all of course, but allowing myself short-cuts is something I have to discipline myself not to discipline myself for… Making sense? Anyway, I was determined to finally make this tart, and thank God I did! I feel that it has given me the motivation to avoid the staple pasta and vegetables which requires no brain effort whatsoever. Another set-back was the goat’s cheese festering away at the back of the fridge. I was so sure the use-by date was longer than that! Luckily, faithful St. Agur saved the day and, while I inwardly mourned for the goat’s cheese, I marched forth to complete the task of the tart!

This was my inspiration: http://tinytearoom.com/fig-and-goats-cheese-tart/ . The tarts are small – I had one with salad (the salad was so good 🙂 I’ll share that too) and I was very peckish afterwards. I am not the kind of person to go fishing around the kitchen cupboards after dinner, but needless to say I couldn’t help myself last night, so yes I’d say these were starter material. The love had two, but I can’t tell you if he was satiated or not because (as is tradition on a Saturday night) I stay up to watch Jonathon Ross and he falls asleep on the settee completely oblivious… If I was to make this as a main meal for 2 I would use 1 larger tart tin instead of 4 little ones. For the latter, you will need four 8-10cm round tart tins.

009

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main meal.

  • 200g ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • 60g st. agur or other soft, creamy blue cheese
  • 4 small figs, halved (or 2 large, quartered)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100ml milk or cream
  • 1 tbsp garlic chives*
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • pinch of salt
  • a few walnuts or pecans, to scatter over the top

For the Salad

  • 2 large handfuls rocket or mixed salad leaves
  • 2 baby cucumbers, sliced thinly with a mandolin (or use quarter of a regular cucumber)
  • about 4 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2-3 figs, halved or quartered
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

For the Dressing

  • 5 tbsp walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and lightly butter the tart tins.
  2. Roll the pastry out until you have a square measuring approx. 20 x 20cm**, then cut into 4 equal squares. Use these squares to line each tart tin with pastry, making sure it is placed evenly and any excess pastry is trimmed away. Prick the bases of each tart with a fork.
  3. Divide the figs and cheese between the tart cases. In a jug, put the egg, milk (or cream), chives, parmesan and salt and whisk until well combined. Pour this mixture over into the cases, taking care not to overfill – you may have a little left over. Decorate with 2 or 3 walnut pieces dotted over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is set. Leave to cool slightly in the tin until you can lift it out onto a plate without burning yourself. Like I did. Because I was very hungry and impatient…
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the salad and make the dressing. Plonk all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl, and for the dressing you just need to combine the oil, vinegar and salt and set aside. Only pour the dressing over the salad and toss together when ready to serve to prevent the salad from wilting.

011

*I was lucky enough to come across a little tub of garlic chives in my local supermarket for only 50p! They are gorgeous little things and I wholly recommend you use them if you can find them. If not, just use ordinary chives – the tart will not suffer!

**In all honesty, I can never roll pastry into a decent square shape. Any recognisable shape actually, I find hard to replicate. Instead I do my best at rolling it out to the desired thickness, then I tear it apart and squish it into the tart cases 🙂 doesn’t sound as much like professional advice, but it works for me!

Black Bean Chilli

2 Feb

Black bean chilli? Yes please thank you very much to you sir please and thank you kindly.

This is the dish that has transformed my opinion of avocado AND radish – I am a double convert, and it is also the first recipe I have used to highlight my love of the flavourful black bean. Over to you recipe…

Serves 2

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 tsp smoked/sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (white wine or cider would work well)
  • 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • approx 200g black beans, rinsed and drained
  • to serve: your choice of… chopped coriander, sliced radish, diced avocado, cheese, sour cream, spring onions, lime wedges…
  • and rice! or sweet potato. that would be delicious.
  1. Heat some oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the onion. Fry for about 5 minutes until softened a little, then add the garlic and pepper. Cook for a few minutes longer, then add the next 7 ingredients (paprika through to chopped tomatoes) with some seasoning. Cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced a little. Add the beans and cook for 5-10 minutes longer. Serve with accompaniments of your choice! 

IMG_8719

IMG_8718

IMG_8720

It is so easy and it feels like a real feast 🙂

I would also like to add that the choice of blue cheese was the love’s. I went for feta. Admittedly I used up the last bit and blue cheese was really all he was left with but still… each to their own I suppose 😉

Puy Lentil Bolognese

20 Jan

For an unashamed omnivore, I post so many vegetarian recipes!

I think it’s because there is so much more variety of flavours and textures to be found in vegetarian produce – it’s exciting!

This is a new MEGA-FAVOURITE! I may even prefer it to regular bolognese sauce.

Most of the recipes that I looked at before I made this took quite a long time to cook (using dried lentils), and none of them used puy!!! Being a very passionate puy lover and impatient to eat that night, I had to put this right. It is so right!! 🙂

Serves 2-4 – (Really, it serves 4, but the love and I ate all of it. It is so right!! 😛 It’s so healthy too, it really is just something that had to be done)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch of celery salt
  • 250g ready to eat puy lentils (I used Merchant Gourmet with porcini and thyme, but I will include porcini and thyme in the ingredients list assuming you can’t find this)
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • small handful of dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
  • Spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan, to serve
  1. Heat some olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and and the onion. Soften for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots, garlic and celery salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is softened (though I like my carrots to retain a little bit of bite). Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs, porcini mushrooms and their soaking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has reduced to an unctuous saucy texture (10-15 minutes). 
  2. Now season with pepper and dish up with spaghetti and grated parmesan! It’s that easy! 😀

 

002

003