Food: Smoky chickpea and lentil stew

Here’s a dead simple recipe for a store cupboard vegan alternative to regular stew. The secret ingredient to this (and many other) recipes is time – just allowing it to simmer away and work its magic at a low temperature in the oven.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, chopped finely,

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic,

  • 1tbp of oil (vegetable)

  • 1 tin of chickpeas,

  • 1 tin of butter beans,

  • 150g of red lentils,

  • 200ml of water,

  • 1 tin of tomatoes,

  • 1tbp tomato puree,

  • 1tbp sundried tomato paste,

  • 1tsp dried cumin,

  • 1tsp pimentón,

  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon,

  • ½ tsp chili flakes,

  • 3-4 drops of liquid smoke,

  • Small handful of fresh coriander,

  • Small handful of fresh parsley,

 

To serve:

  • Small handful of fresh coriander or parsley,

  • 1 generous dollop of Oatly fraîche,

  • Lots of nice, crispy fresh bread.

 

Method:

 

Chop the onion and the garlic finely and soften in a little oil in a suitably sized Dutch oven. When they’re soft add the tomato puree and allow that to suck up all the extra oil. Add in the chickpeas and the tomatoes, sundried tomato paste, stir and season with salt and black pepper. Add in the lentils and some of the water for now. Season the stew with the rest of the dry spices and give it a good stir. Let the mixture come up to simmering point and then stir in the fresh herbs and the drops of liquid smoke. The lentils should have absorbed some of the water by this point so top it up and place in a preheated oven at 140°C. Allow it to cook for at least forty minutes before checking. Take it out and give it a good stir, give it a bit more water if it’s looking dry. At this stage you’ll need to give it another half an hour at least to let the lentils truly lose their bite and become soft. Keep stirring and checking until it’s the consistency you want. The longer you leave it the better it’ll be, I promise!

When it’s done serve with the chopped herbs, a dollop of Oatly fraiche and a mountain of good bread. It’s the perfect summer stew!

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Food: Curried pancake stack

This is what I made on Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday as an alternative to sweet British pancakes with lemon & sugar…which are amazing btw! Here’s how you can make these for dinner and have the sweet ones for dessert 😉 These are also, omitting the Oatly for  another plant milk/ yoghurt alternative, gluten free too!

You’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 100g Gram (chickpea) flour.
  • 30g Frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 100ml Aquafaba.
  • 2tbs Chia seeds.
  • 1tsp Green barley powder.
  • 1tbs of kalonji / nigella/ black fennel seeds
  • 1tsp Garam marsala.
  •  1tsp Chilli powder.
  • 1tsp Cumin.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Splash of non dairy milk (I used Oatly)
  • 1 Portions worth of leftover curry, vegan in my case.

For the Raita:

  • 2tbs Oatly fraîche/ soy yoghurt
  • Splash of water (If using Oatly fraîche)
  • Thumb size piece of cucumber.
  • Handful of fresh mint.
  • Sprinkle of salt

To Garnish:

  • 6 Bhaji bites
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 5 lingonberry pickled onion rings, learn how to make them here

This recipe is a doddle to make, simply start by heating up your aquafaba on a low heat in a pan with the chia seeds. This should start the chia seeds coagulation process.

Whilst they begin to heat up, you can get your dry ingredients ready. Sieve the spices, green barley powder, gram flour and salt & pepper into a big mixing bowl. Once you can see the chia seeds have began to open and make a gel, take the mixture off the heat.

with a hand blender, pulse the spinach ever so slightly until it begins to break up. Combine with the aquafaba/chia mixture, then add the kalonji seeds. mix until you get a green, gloopy mixture. Now, all you have to do is simply mix with the dry mixture and add a splash of non-dairy milk accordingly until it becomes a thick batter.

Fry in an oiled pan, remembering to spread the mixture evenly. Keep an eye on the level of oil in the pan, between pancakes, you may have to add a bit more oil.

once they are all cooked, stack them on a plate for later.

I had a bit of batter leftover, but not enough to make another pancake. Instead of wasting it, I decided to make these bhaji bites. To the batter I added 1tbs of finely chopped spring onion, 1tsp turmeric and 1tsp paprika. mix and dollop a teaspoon worth into the pan, to which I added an inch of oil. They will slightly expand and bubble. Cook until crispy, but be vigilant as they can burn easily.

Once done, pop them onto some paper towel to drain and pop the leftover curry in a pan/ microwave to heat through.

Whilst you’re waiting for the curry to re-heat, it’s time to make the raita. Chop the mint & cucumber finely, adding to a bowl. Mix through the yoghurt/ fraîche. If you’re using the Oatly fraîche, you may need to add a splash of water to the bowl, as its quite a thick product. Season with salt & you’re done!

Time to assemble!

Layer each pancake with a big dollop of curry, then on the final layer, top with the raita & garnishes and finally crown with the bhaji bites.

It’s great paired with a light & refreshing beer. I made a shandy out of Five Points Ale & Cawston Press cucumber & mint soda and it worked perfectly!

Enjoy!

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Food: fishless fishcakes

Vegan /Eating plant based? Missing fish?

Here’s a ‘salmon’ & ‘tuna’ style fishcake recipe for a convincing taste of the sea!

You’ll need:

For the carrot ‘salmon’ & chickpea ‘tuna’:

  • Four medium/large carrots, peeled cut into coins,
  • 1 tin of chickpeas,
  • ½ aquafaba of the chickpeas,
  • 2 tbsp of Nori Flakes/ ½ sheet of Sushi Nori (cut into pieces),
  • 1 tbsp of dried dill,
  • Handful of dill stalks,
  • Salt & pepper,

 

For the carrot & chickpea cakes:

 

  • Zest of ½ a lemon,
  • 2 spring onions, chopped,
  • ½ aquafaba of the chickpeas,
  • Splash of nondairy milk, ( I used Oatly)
  • 1 tsp dill oil (optional),
  • 200g mashed potatoes,
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped,
  • Juice of ½ a lemon,
  • 100g breadcrumbs,
  • 1 tbsp Oatly fraîche,
  • Salt & pepper,

 

Method:

To begin with the carrot and chickpea ‘fish’ mix, boil the carrots and chickpeas until soft in water mixed with the dried dill, half of the aquafaba, the stalks and seaweed.

Once they’re done, drain and remove the stalks. Mash the mixture until you achieve a flaky consistency. Set aside and leave to cool.

While they’re cooling you can fry the spring onions gently, leave these to cool too.

In a bowl add the carrot & chickpea mixture to the rest of the ingredients bar the other half of the aquafaba and the breadcrumbs. The mashed potatoes can be made up from a handful of potatoes or instant (they need to be cool however). I keep a store of mashed potatoes in the freezer that can be used for different things when needed. I’ve also added dill oil to my mixture, which I bought in Germany a while back. It might be a bit difficult to get hold of over here so that’s entirely optional. The overall purpose is to imbue the cakes with as much sea-like flavour as possible, hence the dill and the seaweed.

After the ingredients are mixed allow the whole thing to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour. Remove from the fridge and form into cakes, put back in the fridge on a tray so they firm up even more.

When you’re ready to crumb, remove the cakes from the fridge. Put the rest of the aquafaba in one bowl and the breadcrumbs in another. Dip both sides of the cakes in the aquafaba, then the breadcrumbs and straight into a lightly oiled frying pan over a medium heat. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

Naturally these are great with fresh steamed greens and new potatoes or you could experiment with adding curry powder or a mix of chilli flakes, lime and a splash of soy for a Thai fishcake alternative. They are great served at a barbecue.

Enjoy!

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Food: Harissa carrot tagine

Here’s an easy recipe for a Moroccan carrot & chickpea tagine. This could not be simpler to make. Feeds 3-4.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely
  • Large glug of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 medium carrots, chopped & peeled
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbs agave nectar
  • 1tbs harissa paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 125ml water
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 (heaped) tsp sundried tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

To garnish:

  • Handful of coriander, chopped

 

To start, add the oil to a shallow pan with a lid and bring to a low heat. Next, add the chopped onion and garlic and fry off until soft and translucent.Once done, you can add the carrots, agave and spices. I’d recommend you chop the carrots so that they are ‘rollcut’- which means that you chop on the diagonal and rotate as you chop, this will give the carrots more surface area to suck up the spicy sauce and give an interesting presentation.

To the pan, add in the harissa paste and sundried tomato paste and turn the heat up to medium. Cook out for roughly 1-2 minutes. Once cooked, add in the chopped tomatoes and the drained can of chickpeas. Don’t throw away the chickpea water though, as this can be used as an eggwhite substitute for so many recipes!

Next add in the lemon juice, 125ml of water and the sultanas and stir until everything has melded together. Season with plenty of salt & pepper. Next, you have to let it do its thing. So, turn the heat down on the hob to its lowest setting and put the lid on. Leave on the hob for at least 10 minutes. While it’s cooking away slowly on the hob I’d recommend putting on the oven to a low 140°C. Once up to speed, transfer from the hob to the oven. Now, you can put your feet up as it needs to be in there for at least 2, preferably 3 hours!

In the meantime the kitchen will slowly fill with a lovely North African aroma 😉

Once the time is up, take out of the oven and add in a splash more of water and stir, just to reconstitute everything. Before you will be a rich & hearty tagine. Garnish with a big sprinkle of chopped coriander and it’s ready to serve.

 

We served ours with a mountain of fluffy couscous and some sweet mint tea.

Enjoy!

Food: Korma mash stack with Marsala chickpeas

Here’s a recipe for a tasty, easy and satisfying Indian inspired mid-week meal.

You’ll need:

For the korma mash:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom,
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbs Coconut milk (tinned)
  • 2 tbs Nigella/kalonji seeds
  • Drizzle of sunflower oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the Marsala chickpeas:

  • A drizzle of sunflower oil
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tbs of garlic infused oil
  • Half an onion, chopped finely
  • A sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp  ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger/ground ginger
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

To start, get a deep Dutch oven/casserole dish and place the sweet potatoes in their skin along with drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes with the lid on, this should both roast and steam the sweet potatoes. After this they should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork (depending on the size of your potatoes, of course. If not, simply put them back in until done). Place into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Once cool, the skin should peel away effortlessly. Place the orange flesh back into the Dutch oven and mash until a smooth purée, then put it on the hob on a low heat. Next, add in the spices and cook the mixture until they have infused the mash with the subtle flavours of South Asia, then add in the coconut milk and Nigella seeds. You’ll want to use the thick and creamy tinned coconut milk, rather than the coconut milk you get in a carton. Stir these in until you have a creamy and speckled mash. Season to taste and with the lid on, set aside. Essentially the hard work has been done, the rest comes together very quickly.

Drizzle a frying pan with a little sunflower oil and place on the hob on a medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and fry off until translucent. If you’re using fresh ginger, now would be the time to add it, along with the tomato purée. Then it’s time to add the myriad of spices. Cook it all out until the spices have infused the purée, then add in the drained chickpeas. You should hear them sizzle as they enter the pan. Add in the garlic oil and fry off for a few minutes. With a final blast of seasoning, some ketchup for sweetness and a squeeze of lemon juice they should be done – and you could leave it at that, but for an extra level of texture, spread the spiced chickpeas on to a baking tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. They should start getting slightly crisp.

To assemble, I used a chef’s ring. Simply place on the place and fill 3/4 full with the mash mixture, then top up with the Marsala chickpeas. Garnish with some chopped coriander and voilà – tis done.  We served ours with a lemon, gin, mint and cucumber cocktail, which perfectly compliments the spicy dish with fresh and summery cool.