Food: Umami rice balls

So, recently I felt like absolute death and didn’t fancy cooking anything elaborate. But during a window of not feeling quite as bad I rattled together this little beauty with leftover rice.

You’ll need:

  • 300-500g of leftover cooked rice,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • A handful of spring greens,
  • 3-4 mushrooms,
  • 1 tsp tomato pureé,
  • 1 tbsp Suma mushroom pâté,
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary,
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs,
  • 2-3 aubergines slices (in oil), chopped,
  • Salt for sprinkling (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)

For the Tomato umami drizzle:

  • 1tbs Kecap manis
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • Splash of water to thin

For the Rosemary, garlic & smoked paprika mayo:

  • 4tbs vegan mayo
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tsp dried Rosemary, ground
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and chop all the ingredients that need chopping. Fry the onion lightly in a little oil until soft, add the mushrooms and spring greens and continue to fry gently until they’ve softened down. Add the tomato puree and the pate and stir through.

In a big bowl stir all of the ingredients including the herbs into the rice and bring together with your hands into balls (roughly tennis ball sized). Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven until they’re crispy on the outside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whilst they are in the oven, mix together the ingredients for the umami drizzle & the punchy mayo in bowls. Take the balls out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. To serve, place in a bowl/ plate and cover them with the drizzle, sprinkle them with salt and serve the mayo on the side.

Enjoy!

 

Food: Columbian potatoes

This is my take on the Colombian dish, Papas con Salsa de Aguacate (potatoes with an avocado sauce), using sweet & purple potatoes, topped with a creamy intense avocado hit. My version has a spicy tomato base to transform it from a traditional side-dish into a tasty plantbased meal.

You’ll need:

  • 3 Sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 purple potatoes/ potatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tin of peeled tomatoes
  • 1tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tbs ground cumin
  • 1tbs ground coriander
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely (de-seeded if want less hot!)
  • Black pepper
  • Oil for roasting.

For the Salsa de Aguacate:

  • 1/2 a tub of Oatly fraîche
  • A glug of garlic infused oil
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Some red onion
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish:

  • Salt for garnishing (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)
  • Handful of chopped coriander

Start by parboiling the potatoes in salted water. As they’re boiling, place a baking tray in oven on it’s hottest setting, with a layer of oil (just like you’re making roasties). Whilst they are cooking, fry off the onion & garlic in a pan. When they are sufficiently softened the potatoes should be ready to take off the boil. Drain and place into the baking tray and oil. Flip over until they begin to sizzle. Place back into the oven to start roasting and crisping up.

In a baking dish, place the now softened garlic & most of the onion with the tomatoes, spices and the chilli. I’d recommend roughly chopping up the tomatoes. Season, mix thoroughly and spread evenly across the bottom of the dish.  After around 10-15 minutes, take the potatoes out and place into the baking dish, on top of the spicy tomato base. Place back into the oven, with a lower temperature of 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes before taking out. Leave to cool slightly, before serving.

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven, you can make the indulgent bit, the avocado sauce. In a food processor, place the Oatly fraîche, avocado, coriander, garlic oil, lime juice and the rest of the fried onion. Whizz up until it forms a creamy sauce. Scoop into a bowl. Season to taste. If too thick, you can loosen it up with a bit more lime juice.

To serve, drizzle on the sauce, the chopped coriander and a sprinkle of salt flakes. I used Saltverk birch smoked salt, which matched the smoky spicy taste of the potatoes.

I’d reccomend serving this with a couple of cold cervezas. I paired it with some Columbian Cerveza Aguila.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Food: Peaches with apricot, cardamom & lemon fraîche

Here’s a quick recipe for a dessert perfect for cooling down in the Summer sun.  The flavours also give a taste of the exotic, so even if you’re stuck at home, you can feel like you’re on holiday

Serves 2

You’ll need:

  • 4 peaches ( I used doughnut peaches as they are in season)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 shot of lemon vodka (optional)
  • 2tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Apricot fraîche:

  • 1/2 tub of vegan crème fraîche/ yogurt ( I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 2tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 apricots, chopped finely
  • 1tbs ground cardamom
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

 

Start by making the fraîche. Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix throughly. You can either then place it in the fridge to firm or do as I did and use the freezer. It will start to create a slightly frozen texture, like a semi-freddo.

Whilst it’s in the fridge/freezer you can prep the peaches. Cut them in half and de-stone. This is usually a messy job, so I tried to keep it intact by poking the stone through the other side. once this is done, heat up a pan on a medium heat. Place the peach halves in the pan, flesh down. cook until they begin to colour. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle them with the lemon zest. Take them out of the pan and place them into the serving bowls. This in an optional step, but I like pouring a shot of lemon vodka on them too! Take the fraîche out and dollop it on top. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I’d recommend you pair it with a Tokaji wine.

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Barbecue Cauli Stack

Aldi recently had cauliflowers at 45p, so I bought quite a few; they’re a great meat alternative, versatile and last for ages! Here’s a recipe I came up with to emulate that meaty bbq taste!

You’ll need:

For the BBQ Cauliflower:

  • 1/2 Head of cauliflower
  • 1tbs tomato pureé
  • Splash liquid smoke
  • 1tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1tsp Chipotle chilli powder
  • 1tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbs paprika
  • 1tbs pomegranate molasses
  • 1tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • Splash garlic infused oil
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • Splash of wate

For the charred sweet potato mash:

  • 3 Sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • Salt n Pepper
  • 1 knob of vegan butter
  • 200ml plant milk (I used Oatly)

To finish:

  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 4 lingonberry pickled onions, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

 

Method:

Okay, so this method is a little unconventional, but bear with me.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into thick coins, layer them on a baking tray and drizzle a splash of oil and season with a little salt. Make sure all the pieces of potato are covered and then put into a hot oven (200°C) and bake for twenty minutes. At this point you need to watch them like a hawk because you want them to be burned but not incinerated! Once they’re browned or lightly blackened, remove them from the oven put them in the pan with the milk, vegan butter and a little more salt. If they haven’t fully softened by now they will in the mix. When they’re softened take off the heat mash them together. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may not need all of the milk, just enough to give you a thick but creamy mash. Spoon the mixture into chef’s ring/ decorative tart tin  on your serving plate and allow to cool. If using a tin, like I did you may have to flip it onto another plate.

Now for the bbq cauliflower. Put a pan on the hob on low heat and drizzle with a little oil. I like using a Dutch Oven such as a Le Creuset as it can go from the hob to the oven easily. Add in the tomato pureé and let it fry off. Next, add in the spices, syrups and soy sauce and stir them into the tomato mixture. You should have a smoky, dark paste in the pan. Cut the cauliflower into little pieces and add them into the pan, trying to coat them with the smoky sauce. Let it fry off for a few minutes, then add in a splash of water. Stir and with the lid on, place in the oven on a low heat (140°C) for 30 minutes.

Once the time is up you should have a brown, glistening and surprisingly meaty cauliflower mixture. Place in a bowl and add the pepper, pickled onion and coriander.

Place a Chef’s ring on top of the mash and spoon in the cauliflower mixture. Once filled, press it lightly and slowly take the Chef’s ring off. Finish with some more chopped coriander. Works great served with some fresh green veg, I served mine with some purple sprouting broccoli.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Jamaican Jills

Jamaican Jills has been one of Neath’s best kept secrets for some time. Now it’s migrated west to Swansea and taken up residence at the bottom of Wind St. You’d be forgiven for thinking Jills was a chain restaurant as the scale and the impact of the place screams success. Perhaps it helps that the previous residents left a shell that could easily be adapted, but it’s really the heart and soul of the cooking and the people who cook it that shines through.

 

IMG_5759.JPG

 

Using the Jamaican flag and the Caribbean as its decorative cornerstone the restaurant is bright and cozy, with splashes of Patois overhead and her signature hot wing challenge on the wall near the kitchens. The design lover in me also noticed the Artek A330S lights, designed by my favourite Architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. Probably a repro, to have something Finnish in the place, seems odd but the glow of the brass on the lights does suit the warmth of the place.

The whole place sings with its unique selling perspective – cosy, good value and gloriously Jamaican. Building on the reputation of its parent restaurant, this bright new light in Swansea’s culinary spectrum looks set to set many a tongue alight with its big flavours and great atmosphere.

 

IMG_5770.JPGIMG_5748.JPGIMG_5745.JPG

 

The menu sports the dishes one would expect of a Jamaican restaurant but I think, and I’d hope, that people would be brave enough to go off piste and try some lesser known delights. Standouts for me included the wonderfully tender and spicy goat curry, served with rice & pea, her Ackee and Saltfish is also deliciously moreish, served with gorgeous fried dumplings. Lunch menus and seasonal special menus are available too (like the recent one for Valentine’s Day) and are as varied and interesting as can be. Typically, the Jerk chicken is bold and punchy, the wings big and juicy. If you’re feeling brave you can try the Spicy Wing Challenge and get a t-shirt and your face on the wall. If you’re bold enough to sign the disclaimer then bragging rights come at the price of 7 hot wings in fifteen minutes with a 5 minute cool down – no drinks!

 

IMG_5768.JPGIMG_5765.JPG

Their bar is fully stocked with regular favourites (including Red Stripe, naturally) with a particular emphasis on cocktails for that Caribbean dimension. Two for one exists on most of the favourites with the Rum Punch being a particularly delicious and unique offering. They also offer a range of “smoking” cocktails served over dry ice for that added wow factor. The Children don’t get short shrift either, their meals echo the adult menu but come in Small Portions or Big Portions so you can gauge them by the appetite of your child. They also come with unlimited drinks and a dessert, which is a nice touch.

 

It’s so easy with new restaurants for them to have a muddy and confusing atmosphere, like they don’t know what they’re about, but that definitely isn’t the case with Jamaican Jills. From the bubbly staff to the slick management, Jills has hit the ground running and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Locally grown successes like this should be sung from the rooftops and supported wherever possible, but when the food is this good it’s all the more satisfying to just go along and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

Food: Kale & walnut pesto

Here’s a fuss free recipe for a fresh pesto that’s incredibly flavoursome and an interesting twist on a traditional pesto.

I had some basil left in the fridge, so I added that, but it’s purely optional because the kale & walnut can stand on their own with out it. It’s easy to make a big batch up and freeze, so you constantly have a supply of tasty pesto, that’s also vegan friendly too, as an added bonus!

 

You’ll need:

  •  1/2 bag of kale (roughly 100g)
  • Handful of walnuts (roughly 20g), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 (heaped)tbs Nooch (Nutritional yeast)
  • 100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of basil, chopped (optional)

 

Start by blanching the kale, as it can be a bit tough on blenders. Keep your eye on it though, as it you want it still vibrant green and full of its nutrients. Once its done, drain and set aside. Place the walnuts into a pan on a medium heat and toast them until they release their nutty aroma and burnish. Another one to keep an eye on as they can scorch easily. Again, once done, set aside.

Here’s where the fun part comes in!

Traditionally, in Italy, they would use a pestle and mortar to make pesto, laboriously grinding the leaves and nuts, until they form into a tasty green sauce.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Yes, it would be idillic if we could, but in our time stressed lives, we need food that’s quick and easy to prepare! All of this hard work can be done in a jiffy with a food processor.

Plug it in, and start by adding the ingredients, minus the oil. Place the lid on and whizz until they form a green mixture. As it’s whizzing, trickle the oil bit by bit to the sauce. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto.

A couple more whizzes and your done!

Use like you would pre-made pesto, on pasta, as a marinade etc.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Vegane Currywurst

The problem with a lot of mucky, über tasty street food is that it’s invariably meat based. Here’s an equally tasty vegan alternative to one of Germany’s signature dishes: Currywurst mit pommes. 

I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp brown German mustard (or Dijon),
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

To serve:

  • 1tbs curry powder
  • 1 packet of frozen French Fries
  • Vegan mayo (Lots of it!)

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

When you’re ready to cook, fill a frying pan or wok with enough oil to shallow fry the carrots. Heat the oil to medium and then reduce if the fat is too hot for them. The carrots will start to blister and brown as they cook, turn regularly for 3-4 minutes.

Once browned, take out and put in a kitchen towel lined baking dish and pop in an oven preheated to 160°C, to finish them off.

You can now use this oil to cook the fries.

Once the carrots are done, take out and leave to cool slightly. Whilst it’s cooling you can make the currywurst sauce.

To make this I used:

  • 1 Heaped tbs of vegan curry (I used one I’d made previously but a spoonful of pre-made/bought sauce will do),
  • 1 heaped tbs of ketchup
  • 1tsp of curry powder
  • 1tbs of the carrot cooking water
  • 1tsp of sweet paprika (dulce)
  • 1tsp lemon juice

To make, simply whizz up the ingredients with a hand blender, transfer to a small saucepan and heat through until all of it has cooked out into a lovely punchy sauce.

To assemble, simply slice the carrots, smother in the sauce and finish with a generous sprinkle of curry powder. Serve with the crispy pommes & a German portion of Vegan mayo. You have to pair a great beer with it, I used a great peach infused Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weiße by Mikkeller, which went great!

Guten Apetit!