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!

 

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Food: Vegan scratchings

If you are a vegan/ follow a plant based diet but miss that greasy, fatty unctuous taste of pork rinds/ flæskesvær/ pork scratchings then this is for you!

This actually came from having an utter disaster in the kitchen but it ended up surprising the hell out of me!

You’ll need:

  • 2-3  Portobello/ jumbo mushrooms, sliced medium thick
  • 10g cornflour
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • salt & pepper

To to make couldn’t be easier!

Simply, take the mushrooms coat them with seasoned cornflour then pop them into a wok/ deep pan full of oil on a high heat.

This is the trick, leave them in for a tad longer than you should, but remember to turn them with some kitchen tongs.

When a bit saturated take out and place onto a layer of paper towel to drain off the oil. Season with some more salt.

The result is scary convincing, with that saturated oil taste mixed with the umami of the mushrooms is superb.

Enjoy with a cold beer!

 

 

Food: Vegan Jagerschnitzel

Or the full title in German would be: Jagerschnitzel Veganisch (Blumenkohl schnitzel) mit champignons soße und pommes.

After my recent trip to Berlin with Uni, and the fact that Berlin is a vegan oasis- I’ve used this as inspiration make some some vegan schnitzel. This schnitzel uses cauliflower (or in German, Blumenkohl) in place of pork, which gives it some great bite.

 

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 heads of cauliflower, cut lengthways into 4 thick steaks
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 200ml soya milk
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp white pepper
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • One bottle of vegetable oil

 

For the sauce:

  • 75g small chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped finely
  • 100-200ml soya cream
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp garlic oil

 

First start by cutting the heads of cauliflower into steaks. Small heads will only yield two decent sized steaks so I’d recommend getting two. The steaks should be at least 1 and 1/2 cm thick. Prepare your coating area by mixing the breadcrumbs in one tray and then the flour, salt, pepper and mixed spice in the other. Make sure you mix them through and evenly coat the bottom. Pour the milk into a wide bowl and dip the steaks, one at a time, into the milk then the flour mixture. Make sure you get into every nook and cranny – there’s a lot more fiddly surface area to cover on a cauliflower! When each steak is sufficiently covered in the flour mixture, leave on a rack for five minutes while you prepare the first part of the sauce.

Chop the onion and fry over a medium heat in the garlic oil. As they begin to brown add the mushrooms and fry until they begin to soften. Take them off the heat and return to the steaks.

Empty a third of bottle of vegetable oil into a pan wide enough to take the steaks – turn the heat to max and let it heat up while you prepare the next stage. Dip each steak in the milk for a second time and then in the breadcrumbs – remember to thoroughly cover each one, but don’t be tempted to double dip, therein chaos lies!

Test the heat of the oil with a small nugget of leftover cauliflower – when it’s bubbling like crazy and browns quickly, the oil is ready. Turn it down a shade and then lower the first steak into the oil – the browning should only take a minute or two so be ready to take it out. Have a cooling rack ready to take the steaks when they’re done – I used the one from the grill. I put kitchen roll underneath to take the excess oil (there’ll be a fair amount). Repeat the process for the other steaks then put the grill rack, steaks and all, onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 140 degrees celsius (fan).

While they’re baking fill your pan with the rest of the oil and return to max heat. When it’s ready deep fry your pommes until golden brown, let them shed their excess oil over kitchen roll then sprinkle liberally with salt  – I used Norður Salt.

Return your mushrooms and onions to the heat and add the soya cream and the mustard. Stir through until everything’s hot and combined. When then steaks are ready they should be golden brown. Poke the thickest part with a knife or skewer – if it goes through easily your steaks are done. Plate up and enjoy with stein of pilsner!

Food: Aubergine & mushroom Sweet & Sour

With Chinese New Year coming up, what better way than to celebrate than by making this plant-based version of your takeaway favourite? Here’s a secret- it’s gonna taste as good (if not better) and it’s so much cheaper!

Serves 4

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 large white mushrooms
  • 5-6 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 pak choi
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • A glug of garlic oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 tin of pineapple chunks (in juice)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 dashes of light soy sauce
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1tsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Grandmother’s)
  • 1tbs pickled red pepper brine
  • 100g cornflower
  • salt & pepper
  • Oil, for frying

 

On the hob, start the sauce by adding the pineapple (juice and all) into a pan on low heat. Next, add the zest & lime juice and stir. Add the plum jam and stir until it dissolves. Next, add the ketchup, ginger and the chilli flakes (its aroma will start to become familiar by this point).

Scorch the red pepper on another one of the gas rings until it begins to catch and blacken slightly, then set aside to cool. If you don’t have a gas hob you can roast them on max for about half an hour until the skins start to blacken.

Once cool, chop the pepper into chunks and add to the sauce. Next, sprinkle in some unrefined sugar, a couple of dashes of light soy, pickle brine and a glug of garlic oil. Stir. To thicken add 1tsp cornflour, slaked in some lime juice. Pour in and stir continuously. Turn the heat up slightly until it reduces into a sticky sauce.

Now, to prepare the vegetables!

Whilst you’re cooking the sauce, it’s probably a good idea to chop up the aubergine into coins, place in a colander (over a bowl) and sprinkle them with salt. Then, by the time the sauce is ready, the aubergines should also be ready. Wipe them down with a piece of tissue and set them aside. Next, chop up the mushrooms into thick slices. Place all of the mushroom slices and aubergine on a plate. In a bowl, combine 100g cornflower with some salt & pepper. It’s time to start coating. Coat each slice in plenty of seasoned flour and place on another plate. Once it’s all done – I’d recommend a quick wipe up around the kitchen (cornflour gets everywhere!).

Next, coat a shallow pan with oil (I used my trusty shallow Dutch Oven) and place on the hob on the highest heat setting. Once the oil is hot enough, drop the floury vegetables (in small batches) into the oil and they’ll instantly start to crisp up. Turn a few times, so they don’t burn. Place onto a third plate lined with paper towel. Once the excess oil has been drained off, place in yet another bowl/plate (sorry). When it’s all fried up and crispy, set aside.

With each batch you’ll need to add a glug more oil and open the windows/turn on fans for this one, as it does get smoky!

Next, wash and chop some pak choi, along with a couple of spring onions. Put the sauce back on the heat and add. Once the pak choi begins to wilt, fold in the mushrooms and aubergine. The colour of the sauce at this point should have darkened into a rich red. Keep folding until it’s heated through. To finish, serve with some fluffy boiled rice and garnish with some more spring onion.

I hope you all have a great Chinese New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai/ Gong Hey Fat Choy/ 恭禧发财!!!

Food: Ionian vegetable penne

Here’s a recipe for a Mediterranean meal that’s bursting with flavour, vitamins and nutrients that will help you beat the Winter blues and take you to the shores of the Med.

Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine,
  • 3 cloves of garlic,
  • Minced 1/4 head of broccoli,
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced,
  • 200g penne pasta,
  • Handful of fresh spinach,
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved,
  • 1 tbs of sundried tomato paste,
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely,
  • Small glass of white wine,
  • 1 tbs dried oregano,
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary,
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped,
  • Salt & pepper,
  • Squeeze of lemon juice,
  • Glug of garlic infused oil,

Start by chopping the aubergine into coins and place them in to a colander (over a bowl). Sprinkle salt over them and wait until it starts extracting it’s juices (this stops it becoming bitter). This should take 30 minutes or so.

Once the juice has been extracted wipe with a paper towel and fry off into a shallow Dutch oven on high with a drizzle of garlic oil. Once coloured in both sides, take them out and chop them into bite sized chunks. Squeeze some lemon juice over the aubergine and add another glug of oil to the pan. Next, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry off until translucent. Add in the sundried tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and the dried herbs. Cook until the mushrooms have started to soften. Next, add the white wine and basil. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then place (lid on) into a preheated oven at 140 for 45 minutes- an hour.

While it’s cooking you can prepare the broccoli. To do this, chop the head into florets and parboil the florets in salted water. Once sufficiently ‘al-dente’, remove and pat with a paper towel. Next, place a cast iron skillet on your hob’s highest setting. Once scorching hot, char the broccoli using some tongs (constantly turning them as they can easily burn rather than char). When ready, place them in a bowl, squeeze some lemon juice and place a saucepan lid on top (it will slightly steam them).

Once the hour’s up take out the Dutch oven, add the broccoli and stir. Place on the hob on low, to keep it warm. This is the time to cook the pasta. Boil some penne (dried or fresh) in some salted and oiled water. Cook until sufficiently ‘al-dente’. Strain the pasta, then add it to the sauce. Finally take a handful of fresh spinach and place into the pan. It will begin to wilt as it hits the pan. Stir everything together and serve. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh basil. We served ours with a couple of glasses of ice cold lemon water and some amazing Rosemary focaccia from Wright’s Food Emporium.

Buon Appetito!

Food: Pancetta, mushroom & pesto pasta

Here’s a recipe perfect for a quick meal on a weeknight and it gives you a variation on the famous Italian pesto.

You’ll need:

for the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g Parmesan, grated
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • salt & pepper

 

For the meal:

  • A small pack of pancetta
  • 20g chestnut mushrooms
  • 200g penne pasta ( I usually work on 100g per person, so this serves 2)
  • Half a packet of Italian salad leaves/ wild rocket
  • salt & pepper

Before you start the meal I’d make the pesto, albeit not a traditional pesto, which includes pine nuts that can be expensive, any creamy nut will work and its fun to experiment with different leaves and nuts. To do this, all you have to do is use blender ( I use a stick blender) and  blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic until smooth, pouring in the oil little by little until its a runny paste. Next, add the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper and blend again. Keep aside. You can also freeze the pesto if you’ve made too much.

Next, Heat a shallow pan on low and fry the pancetta, until all of its smokey oil has been rendered. Now, add the mushrooms and fry them until soft. Whilst this is cooking you can boil the pasta in some salted water. When the mushrooms are done, add a big heaped spoonful (or two) of the pesto, to cook the raw garlic out. The pan by this point should be a vibrant green. Next, drain and add the pasta and stir. Then, add half a packet of Italian salad leaves and stir until the green oily sauce has covered everything. Serve and top with plenty of black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan. We served ours with some homemade garlic bread and a couple of crisp larger.

Buon Appetito!

Food: Kycklingpytt

After wanting to make something Scandinavian (that wasn’t fish or meatballs) I started doing some research and found the Swedish dish called Pyttipanna or ‘bits in a pan’. Perfect. Essentially it’s a hash – how Swedes would use up their leftover meat and potatoes, but I wanted to elevate this from a leftover supper into a Posh Dish.

To do this you’ll need:

(Feeds 2)

  • 1.5 Chicken breasts
  • a handful of wild mushrooms – I used some Chanterelles
  • 3 large-ish new potatoes (or 1 large potato)
  • a packet of lardons
  • a handful of dill
  • a handful of parsley
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • some pickled beetroot

Earlier in the day I poached the chicken in a liquor of boiling water, a spoonful of mustard – I used dijon – a small glass of Vermouth, some leftover mushroom stalks, a good crack of black pepper and 1tbs of dried thyme and a few stalks of fresh thyme. Poach until the juices of the chicken run clear. Separate the breasts from the liquid and set aside. With the liquor I simply strained and filtered it, then when cool put it in the freezer – it would be a shame to throw it out when I could use it as a base of a great stock. Waste not want not as they say…

Whilst the chicken is poaching, there’s time to deal with the potatoes. Peel and chop into small cubes. The smaller the better, this step really tested my patience – but you’ll have to deal with it as nearly everything needs to be chopped in this dish, however the result is amazing, so bear with it. Par-boil  the potatoes in salted water, strain and set aside.

Once the chicken is cool, you’ll need to do the same and shop into small pieces.

Now you’re ready to make the dish.

Fry the lardons in a shallow pan. I used my Descoware shallow casserole, a mid-century heirloom and one of my favourite pans in the kitchen. Very versatile. Once they have browned a bit and let out their delicious smokey oil add in a finely diced onion. Cook until translucent. Once this is done, you can chop the mushrooms up, yes, you guessed, finely.

Next, add the potatoes and sauté . Add the mushrooms along with some chopped fresh dill and parsley, a splash of cider vinegar and a knob of butter. Finally add the chicken and season. Add to your plate or bowl, I used some IKEA STOCKHOLM deep bowls, for that sophisticated edge. Nearly done, I promise.

Place some chef’s rings in a frying pan with a drop of oil. If you’re thinking ‘where on earth do you get chef’s rings’ well eBay is probably worth a try but I got mine from TIGER, in Swansea – weirdly marketed as ‘cheesecake rings’ – a bargain at £3 for 4 and a press. Heat and fry two eggs. Once fried, top the hash with the eggs and some slices of pickled beetroot (an extra frond of dill won’t hurt 😉 ). I used my own homemade caraway pickled beetroot, that I’d made the week before. We served ours with some crusty baguette and a nice glass of red wine.

Now, break the yolk so it makes a rich sauce and consume!