Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

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: Saag Aloo soup

This is a great iron-rich soup, which is a much healthier and quicker alternative than the local takeaway!

You’ll need:

  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20g frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 litre of water
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper

 

Garnish:

  • 1 tbs coconut cream
  • Few coriander leaves
  • Vegetable pakoras

 

Start by chopping the potatoes into chunks, parboil them in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

Chop and fry the onion & minced garlic in a cast iron pot on a medium heat with a little oil until they’re soft and mellow. Add a splash more oil and add the spices & black pepper, and fry until they are all cooked out and the pan turns an opulent gold. Next, add in the potatoes, and coat them in this spicy mixture. Pour over the water and stir. Add in the lime juice and spinach, and stir lightly until it starts to thaw. Place the lid on, turn the heat down onto its lowest setting and leave the mixture bubble and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

When the soup’s done its thing, take a hand blender and blitz the whole thing into a thick, velvety spiced soup.

Serve with a drizzle of coconut cream, some coriander and some pakoras on the side.

Enjoy!

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!