Sweet chickpea tagine

How much this constitutes a tagine I’m not sure given how many ingredients I substituted from the original recipe, which was for a fish tagine. Serves 3 with bulgar wheat or naan, or 2 alone; reheats well the next day.

Melt ~1 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and caramelise 3-4 stalks celery, diced, and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of chilli flakes to taste, coating the celery and garlic thoroughly. Add 1/2 plantain, 1 apple, 1/2 courgette and 1/2 mango, all diced into 1 cm cubes and cook, stirring continuously, until the pan begins to smoke. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 can water and 1 tsp stock powder. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat, cover, and leave for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced. If the tagine is still a little sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. Stir in 1 400g can chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve.

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Soda Dumplings

Traditionally dumplings are made with suet, but since I didn’t have any I modified a soda bread recipe to make these, which I can make with cupboard ingredients I always have to hand.

Sift about 150g plain flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl; add generous black pepper and herbs of your choice (I use about 1/2 tsp each of sage and rosemary). Thoroughly mix in 2 tbsp oil or melted butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in about 150 ml milk, stirring thoroughly, until the dough holds together and comes away from the side of the bowl, but before it gets too wet. Add more sifted flour if it’s very sticky. Break off palm-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls – depending on the size of the dumplings you can get between 6 and 8 from this recipe. Drop into a covered casserole or soup 15-20 minutes before the end of its cooking time.

Quick potato curry

Any mixture of vegetables could be used in place of cabbage and broccoli here. If you want to add meat, it’s best to cook it through first, then remove it from the pan to make up the rest of the curry, adding the meat back in at the very end – this helps to avoid having under or overcooked meat. Vary the amount and strength of the curry powder to your personal taste.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, in a little oil until golden brown. Add 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, a handful of red cabbage, finely sliced, and a handful of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped along the stem; fry over a medium heat until the broccoli leaves have wilted. Coat in 1/2 tsp coriander seed (ground or whole), 1/2 tsp cumin seed (ground or whole), 1 heaped tsp curry powder, then add 2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour and 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter. Fry for a few minutes, then slowly add approx. 1 cup of water, stirring into the mixture as you go, until the potato cubes are covered by liquid. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Serves 1 alone or 2 with naan.

Chinese style fried cabbage

Adapted from an old book of Chinese recipes a friend found for me in a charity shop. Any kind of cabbage can be used; I’d recommend at least two types for the variety. Hard cabbage like white or red should be added with the onion; soft leaves such as savoy, Chinese leaves or pak choi should be added later. Like a lot of hot-and-fast cooking, this can get smoky, so open a window or turn on the extractor fan if you have one.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Finely slice 1 onion, 1/2 small red cabbage and 1/2 small savoy cabbage. Heat a spoonful of oil in a non-stick pan over a high heat until a haze develops over the oil. Add the onion and red cabbage to the pan and fry, stirring continuously, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the savoy cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, again stirring continuously, until the savoy cabbage begins to brown. Stir in the sauce mixture, stir to coat, and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a protein component of your choice.

Serves 2 generously.

Fish Pie

This recipe is a combination of traditional mashed-potato topped fish pie and dauphinoise potatoes, with some extra vegetables thrown in because I throw extra vegetables into everything. I used whiting, but any other sustainable white fish such as pouting can be used; similarly the cuttlefish balls (which I found in the local Chinese supermarket) can be substituted out for any other shellfish depending on what’s available.

Gently heat 400ml milk in a non-stick frying pan with 1/2 diced onion, 4 cloves, 2 bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Once the milk is steaming, tip in a large handful of Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved, and about half of a small sweet potato, cut into 1 cm cubes. Poach until beginning to soften, then add 200g whiting, cut into 1 inch slices, and 4-5 cuttlefish balls, cut into eighths. Once the fish is cooked through, lift everything out of the milk with a slotted spoon (or use a sieve) and place in a large casserole dish. Stir in 1/3 cup sweetcorn and 1/3 cup edamame beans or peas.

Return the milk to the heat and add 3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly (ideally ~1 mm); add extra milk to cover if necessary. Poach, occasionally stirring to make sure they don’t stick together, until they are just cooked through. Lift the potatoes out of the milk and layer over the fish mixture.

Pour the milk into a jug, stir in 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of cream if desired, and set aside. Wipe down the inside of the frying pan, then melt 25 g butter over a medium heat. Mix 2 tablespoons flour into the butter and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the roux is dark golden in colour. Pour the milk into the frying pan in increments, making sure that the mixture is well combined before adding more. Continue adding milk until a white sauce consistency is reached – this should take all the milk in the jug, and might need more. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper, then pour over the potatoes, making sure that it soaks through into the fish mixture.

Bake the pie in the oven at 180°C for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily broken with a fork and the top of the pie is golden-brown.

Serves four, suitable for freezing.

Poached Asian Pear

In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp lemon or lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger), 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 5 cardamom pods. Bring to the boil and add 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and cut into ~2 mm thick slices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the pear slices have softened. Strain and serve alone or with ice cream.

This recipe could easily be used for ordinary apples or pears – apples will need a little longer to cook, pears will need a little less time. Two apples or pears would probably be equivalent to one Asian pear in size.

Mushroom “stroganoff”

Probably a stroganoff by name only; adapted from an old recipe card that I think came out of a magazine. I wanted to make a creamy dish without actually using cream, because I can never get through an entire carton before it goes off.

Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in ample water with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then drain. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 an onion, finely diced, and 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly, in about 1 tbsp oil until translucent. Add 6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced, and 1/3 cup frozen or canned sweetcorn. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the mushroom is beginning to brown, stir in 1 tbsp plain flour, then add 1/3 cup strong vegetable stock and 1/2 tbsp light tahini. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer until the sauce is thick (this shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes). Season with generous black pepper and serve over the bulgar wheat.

Serves 1

 

Vegan Paella

The biggest challenge when it comes to adapting paella to be vegan is finding an acceptable substitute for chorizo, which I think is the single ingredient which gives paella its most characteristic flavour. I’ve experimented with soya chunks and aubergine as the substitute, so both methods are listed here. Alternatively you could leave them out and just add an extra teaspoon or two of smoked paprika to the rice.

This recipe serves 3, or 2 generously.

Aubergine: cut 1 small aubergine into inch-thick slices and layer with 1-2 tsp salt. Leave to draw out the moisture for 1-2 hours, then rinse the slices off, pat dry with kitchen paper and cut into cubes. Mix 2 tsp smoked paprika into 2 tbsp oil and coat the aubergine. Leave for another 2-3 hours or overnight to marinade. While you’re cooking the paella, place the aubergine cubes on a foil-lined tray and cook under the grill for 15-20 minutes, turning once, or until well cooked. Stir into the paella towards the end of the cooking time.

Soya chunks: rehydrate 1/2 cup soya chunks with boiling water and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry with kitchen paper, then marinade and grill the soya chunks as with the aubergine.

In a large lidded saucepan, preferably non-stick, fry 1 small leek, sliced and 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced, until beginning to caramelise. Add 1/2 cup long or short grain rice, 1 bell pepper, cut into chunks, 1-2 teaspoons turmeric and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (if you don’t have time to pre-marinade the soya chunks/aubergine, add them now with an extra tbsp smoked paprika), and stir to coat the rice. Pour over 1 cup hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over occasionally,  or until the rice is almost cooked (you may have to add a little extra water if the paella starts to look dry). Then add 3-4 small mushrooms, quartered, 1/2 cup peas and the marinaded aubergine or soya chunks, if using. Cover again and cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.

Variations:

  • Red or white onion can be used instead of the leek.
  • Other vegetables to add in with the rice: chunks of sweet potato, halved Brussels sprouts, chunks of red cabbage, cubed raw beetroot or any other root vegetable
  • Other vegetables to add in with the peas and mushrooms: sweetcorn, halved black olives, spinach, kale
  • If you want to use chorizo, add it in a few minutes before the rice and leave out the smoked paprika (or add just a teaspoon, to taste). Meats such as fish or chicken are best cooked first, removed from the pan, and added in again towards the end of the cooking time to prevent overcooking. Cooked frozen prawns should be added in with the peas.

Mother’s potato cake

Adapted from a recipe in an Oregon cookbook given to me by my friend Rebecca. There’s no explanation given as to why it’s “mother’s” potato cake…

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and dice 1 medium potato and boil in lightly salted water for 15 minutes or until well cooked. Drain, rinse with cold water, and mash thoroughly. Pack 1 cup with the mashed potato and eat the rest while you make the cake. Cream together 2/3 cup sugar and 75g (1/3 cup) butter, then mix in 2 eggs. Having all the ingredients at room temperature helps to prevent curdling. Add the mashed potato, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup milk, stirring thoroughly. Sift into another bowl 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt. Gently blend the wet and dry ingredients, then pour into a greased cake pan and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until cooked through but still slightly squidgy.

Keeps in an airtight container for a few days. You can also use instant mashed potato.

Kidney bean and soya chilli

Soya (TVP) chunks aren’t particularly cheap or easy to get hold of, which is a shame because they’re a fantastic ingredient – shelf stable, adaptable, and really easy to cook (I’m lucky enough to have a cheap supply  close to home). If you don’t have access to soya chunks you can use a meat of your choice, quorn, or firm tofu.

I owe it to my friend Sam for revealing the secret ingredients of a really good chilli – instant coffee and cocoa powder.

Thoroughly rinse 1 400g can kidney beans (you can soak them in water with a few spoonfuls of baking soda to reduce problems with wind). Preheat the oven to 180°C. If you have an oven safe saucepan or stovetop safe casserole dish, use that for cooking – if not, cook in a saucepan and transfer to a casserole dish. Fry 1/2 onion, sliced, and 2 large cloves garlic, sliced, in a spoonful of oil until golden. While the onion is cooking, rehydrate half a cup of soya chunks using boiling water, leaving to soak while you cook the vegetables. Add to the dish 1 small sweet potato, diced into 1cm chunks, and 1/4 red cabbage, also diced. Once the sweet potato is beginning to brown, drain off the soya chunks and kidney beans and add them to the dish with 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp instant coffee powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder and a pinch of chilli flakes. Refill the tomato can with hot water and stir in 1 tsp stock powder; pour about half into the chilli and leave the rest aside in case you need it later. Cover the casserole dish (use foil if you don’t have a lid) and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, adding more stock if needed, until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce and the soya chunks are soft to the bite. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, stir in half a cup of sweetcorn.

Makes 3 portions, keeps in the fridge for a few days. Can be eaten hot or cold.