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.

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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.

Guest Recipe: Rhey’s Jambalaya

My American friend Rhey and I made this together over Skype on Thanksgiving. It’s not strictly authentic, but personally I prefer Rhey’s less-meat-more-vegetables take on this traditional Cajun dish.

Cut 1 small plantain and 1 small sweet potato into large chunks and place on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and a few cracks of black pepper. Roast at 180°C while preparing the rest of the dish. Cut 2 pork sausages into chunks and brown in a little butter in a large saucepan. Remove the sausage chunks and fry 1 onion, roughly chopped, and 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced, until beginning to soften. Add 1 red or orange pepper, cut into chunks, and a large handful of red cabbage, roughly chopped. Fry until the onion becomes translucent, then add the sausage, 1 cup long or short grain rice, 2 cups hot stock, 1 tbsp paprika or smoked paprika, a pinch of salt, a generous crack of black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste, and a splash of Worcester sauce or soy sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes until the rice is almost cooked through, lifting occasionally to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan but not stirring. Take the plantain and sweet potato out of the oven and mix it into the jambalaya with a large handful of pre-cooked prawns. Cook for a final ten minutes or until the prawns are heated through and the rice is done, then serve.

Makes 3-4 portions, depending how hungry you are. Keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Variations:

  • Instead of prawns, Rhey used chicken, cooked with the sausage. It’s traditional for jambalaya to have two meats, but it’s not vital.
  • What vegetables you add to the jambalaya depends on what you have lying around. Any other hard vegetables, such as carrot or parsnip, can be roasted with the sweet potato. Soft vegetables like peas or sweetcorn could be added towards the end of the cooking time; vegetables like green beans or broccoli would probably be best steamed separately and again added with the sweet potato.

Calas

Calas, or rice beignets, are a traditional dish from New Orleans and an interesting way to use up leftover cooked rice. The frying oil, once cool, can be passed through a fine sieve and used up in cooking or, if it’s not too dark and bitty, used again for deep frying.

Mix together 1 cup cooked white rice, 3 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a sprinkle of ground cardamom. Add an egg and mix in thoroughly. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a steep sided frying pan over a medium heat. Test the heat of the oil with a few grains of the mixture – it should sizzle but not spit. Take a heaped spoonful of the mixture, smooth down the top, then slide off the spoon into the oil with your finger. Cook the calas for 3-4 minutes on either side or until brown and crispy on the outside. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle over icing sugar and eat hot.

Serves 2 as a snack.

Roast Carrot and Parsnip Soup

I used leftover roast vegetables from the day before for this, but you can roast the vegetables specially.

Scrub clean 1 large carrot and 1 large parsnip; halve lengthways and cut into finger-length batons. Place on a baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of oil, a generous pinch of salt, and generous cracked pepper. Roast at 180°C for 30-45 minutes, or until soft and beginning to blacken around the edges. Allow to cool a little then chop into smaller pieces. Fry 1/2 onion, roughly chopped, and 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, in a little butter or oil until beginning to caramelise. Add the carrot and parsnip, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard, and 1-2 cups of vegetable stock depending on how thick you want the soup (one cup will give an almost purée-like texture, two cups will give a thin drinking soup). Bring to the boil, then take off the heat and blend until reasonably smooth. Serve with crusty bread and goat’s cheese.

Serves 2-3 depending on the size of the vegetables and the amount of liquid added.

Carrot and Lentil Broth

Adapted from a Good Food recipe. Particularly good with a fried egg on top, the yolk broken into the broth. Serves 2.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 medium carrots, diced, in a little oil until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add 1/2 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1 pint vegetable stock, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp thyme, two bay leaves and 1/3 cup puy lentils, rinsed. Bring to the boil and cook on a medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the carrot is beginning to soften. Add 4 mushrooms, quartered, and a handful of broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces, and cook for another 10 minutes, until the broccoli is soft. Add a dash of soy sauce to taste. Serve with bread.

Variations:

  • Instead of garlic powder, use one or two cloves of garlic, thinly sliced; cook them with the onion
  • Any kind of lentil will work in this recipe
  • Other root vegetables can be prepared and cooked with the carrot; other soft vegetables can be cooked with the mushrooms and broccoli. The original recipe used cabbage.

Kale Parcels

After a few iterations I’m still not satisfied with this recipe, but I’ve run out of kale, so I’ll post it here for the time being. Serves 1 or 2 as a snack.

Blanche 6-10 large leaves of kale in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, until soft. Lift out with a spatula, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup bulgar wheat to the water, and boil for 10 minutes, until cooked through, then strain and set aside. Rinse the kale in cold water then squeeze the water out of the kale leaves and strip out the rib of each leaf, leaving the top 4-5 inches of the leaf intact. Thinly slice the ribs and fry gently in a little oil with 1/4 onion, finely diced, and 1 clove garlic, finely diced, until the onion is translucent. Add the bulgar wheat, a handful of sweetcorn, 1 small carrot, grated, a handful of raisins, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Mix well, then take off the heat.

Place 1-2 tbsp of the mixture onto the intact end of each leaf and fold over the tip of the leaf, squeezing the mixture down. Fold the two “tails” diagonally over the tip to create a triangle; continue wrapping the tails tightly around the mixture. They should hold by themselves. Finish off the parcels by baking at 200°C for ten minutes, grilling for five minutes on each side, microwaving for 2-3 minutes or shallow frying for 5 minutes on each side (this last method tends to leave the kale more chewy), or until the outermost kale has turned dark green-black.  Serve with any leftover bulgar mixture. Spare parcels will keep in the fridge for a few days.

 

 

Vegan Sunshine Mince

I recreated this recipe from things that needed using up in the fridge and a very vague memory of the original sunshine mince my mother used to make. The main features (if I remember correctly) were mince, grated carrot, chickpeas and sultanas – the rest can be whatever needs using up at the back of the fridge.

Rehydrate 1/2 cup soya mince in 2 cups boiling water. Soak a hand-sized sheet of dried kelp in water until soft enough to cut into 1 inch squares. Gently fry 1/2 red onion, finely sliced, and 1 clove garlic, finely chopped until translucent; then add the soya mince and water, kelp, 3-4 inches plantain, diced, a large tomato, diced, 3 mushrooms, diced, 1/2 carrot, grated, 1/2 of a 400g can of chickpeas, drained, a handful of raisins or sultanas, and 1 tsp miso paste (or 1 tsp stock powder and 1 tsp soy sauce). Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the kelp is soft and the tomato has disintegrated. Add 1 tsp smoked paprika and generous cracked paper. Serves 2 with couscous.

Sprat and Bulgar Wheat Cabbage Salad

I threw these ingredients together with surprisingly good results. Sprats are also known as whitebait; they’re one of the cheapest fish available in supermarkets although you can usually only get them at deli counters.

Remove the heads and tails of 100g (around eight) sprats, cut in half along one side of the spine and remove the spine by pinching it at one end and running your fingers down the length of the spine (this seems to be the quickest and most effective method). Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in water with a pinch of salt for ten minutes, or until cooked through, then strain. Fry in a little oil a generous handful of red cabbage, shredded, one clove of garlic, finely sliced, and two mushrooms, sliced, until the cabbage is beginning to soften. Push to the side and lay the sprats skin-down in the pan and cook until the flesh turns opaque, then stir into the vegetable mixture with the bulgar wheat, the seeds from 1/3 pomegranate and 1/4 tsp each of coriander, turmeric and cocoa powder. Season with black pepper and serve.

Serves one.

Shakshouka

Adapted from a Riverford Farms recipe; the dish itself is of North African origin. Serves one, but is easily scaled; if you’re cooking for more than one person make a well for each egg (you’ll need to use a steep sided frying pan or a large saucepan). From start to finish, this recipe for shouldn’t take more than half an hour for one person.

In a small saucepan, fry in oil or butter over a high heat 1/2 onion, thickly sliced, for about five minutes or until softened. Then add 2/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and 1/2 plantain, cubed and 1 clove garlic, sliced and continue to fry until the pepper is soft. Add 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1/3 of a 400g tin), 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and cumin, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Add a little brown sugar if it is still sharp. Make a well in the vegetable mixture and crack an egg into it. Cover and simmer for five minutes, or until the egg has set. Season with black pepper before serving.