Spiced carrot pickle

I adapted this from a Co-op leaflet based on the ingredients I happened to have in the cupboard. It keeps for up to a week in the fridge, and should be freezable. The particular mixture of spices you use is pretty arbitary – I’d always keep the garlic, ginger and chilli, but garam masala or mixed spice could easily substitute the rest. You could also add coriander seed or cardamom if you have it.

Melt about 1 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, then add 1 1/12 cups grated carrot (about 4-5 medium size carrots) and fry for 5 minutes until beginning to turn golden. Stir in a large thumb-sized block of grated ginger (or 1 tsp powdered ginger), 3 cloves garlic, finely diced, and 1/2 red chilli, finely diced (or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes), and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp ground cumin or (1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 star anise, broken into pieces, and 1/3 cup raisins (or sultanas). Finally add 2 tbsp honey and 3-4 tbsp malt or cider vinegar and cook down for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the carrots are completely soft. Wait a day for the flavours to develop before serving.

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Hash browns with salsa and avocado

When I cooked this, the hash browns got stuck to the pan after I’d flipped them over, so sprinkling over a little extra oil when flipping should help prevent them getting stuck.

Peel and grate 2 medium potatoes and rinse under the tap to remove excess starch. Pat or squeeze out the worst of the moisture; stir in 1 clove garlic, finely diced, 1/2 small onion, finely diced, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan then turn the heat to low and add the potato mixture, spreading it out evenly across the pan. While the mixture is cooking, roughly mash 1 avocado then stir in 1 small clove garlic, finely diced, 2 tbsp hot salsa, and a small fistful of goat’s cheese, cut into small cubes. Once the hash brown is brown on the underside and crisping up around the edges, break it into quarters with a spatula and flip (if it’s falling apart, leave it for a few more minutes). Continue to fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a plate and top with the avocado mixture.

Serves 1 generously.

Tomato Sauce

I use this recipe for anything from lasagne to pizza. If you don’t have a blender (or don’t feel like washing up), simply chop the onion up more finely, add a little less water, and use your spoon to mash up any large chunks of tomato from the can.

Finely chop 1 small red onion and 2-3 cloves garlic. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until they are golden brown. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes then refill the can with water and add that in too. Stir in a heaped teaspoon of vegetable stock and a generous sprinkle of herbs of your choice (I use oregano and thyme). Bring to the boil then reduce to a medium heat and bubble for 15-20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (white is fine) and 1 teaspoon soy or Worchester sauce. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little, then blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. If your sauce is too thin, stir in a spoonful of plain flour and cook for an extra 3-4 minutes.

To use as a pizza sauce, omit the can of water.

Freezes well, or lasts for a few days in the fridge.

Apple and Cashew Soup

A fairly simple soup recipe, but not a combination I would have thought of if I hadn’t spotted it in a recipe book. The Thai curry paste really brings out the flavours, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or a pinch of chilli flakes instead if you don’t have any.

Roughly chop 1 small onion and finely chop 2 cloves garlic. Peel 1 medium carrot, 1 medium potato and 1 large apple, and cut them into small chunks, cutting the carrot a little smaller than the potato as it is slower to cook. Heat a spoonful of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent and beginning to caramelise. Add the carrot and potato and allow them to brown a little, then add to the pan 2 cups boiling water, 1 generous teaspoon vegetable stock powder, 1 scant teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (to taste) and a large handful of cashews. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrot and potato are begining to soften, then add the apple. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are fully soft. Allow to cool a little then blend thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 with bread, reheats well the next day.

Sautéed potatoes with celeriac and kale

This is based on a Nigel Slater recipe, with some of the fancier ingredients taken out and whatever I had leftover from my veg bag thrown in. Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a side and is best eaten straight from the pan.

Slice 1 medium onion into strips. Very finely slice (as thin as you possibly can) 1-2 cloves garlic, 2-3 small potatoes and a fist-sized chunk of celeriac. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat; when a haze begins to form over the oil, drop in the onion. Fry for ~5 minutes, then add the potato, celeriac and garlic. Continue to fry, turning regularly, for another 10 minutes or so, allowing the onion to caramelise and the potato and celeriac to brown on both sides. Add a large handful of roughly chopped kale (I used curly kale, about 3-4 leaves), 1 tbsp soy sauce or 1tsp miso paste mixed with a little hot water, a heaped tbsp of peanut butter, and a sprinkle of powdered ginger (or you can use fresh grated ginger). Mix thoroughly, continuing to cook until the kale has cooked down, the other vegetables are well browned and the potato is easily cut with a knife. Serve immediately.

Variations:

  • The celeriac can be replaced by any other root vegetable and the kale with any other leafy green, although spinach or chard will probably take less time to cook down.

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.

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.

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