Food: Cilento ciambotta

Here’s a great recipe for using up the vegetables you have left in your fridge. Plus, it’s one of those that kind of works for all seasons, whether frosty Winter or a breezy Summer evening.

You’ll need:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tsp sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 courgettes / zucchini, cut into coins
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • Handful of new potatoes, cut into pieces (I used purple potatoes)
  • Handful of good black olives
  • Splash of good red wine
  • 1tbs chilli flakes
  • Handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Start by chopping the aubergine into pieces 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.

While this is doing, in a Dutch Oven, fry the onions and garlic on a medium heat until they turn translucent. Then add in the tomato pureé & paste and fry until it’s cooked out. Next add in the tin of chopped tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes. Now is probably time to check on the aubergine.

Once the juice has been extracted from the aubergine, Rinse with some water, and add into the pot, along with the courgette, olives and herbs. Top up with some good red wine and stir. Season with salt & black pepper, not forgetting the aubergines might still be a little salty.

Place into a pre-heated oven at 140°C, for 50 minutes. In this time the wizard that is the Dutch oven/ cast-iron casserole will do it’s magic and meld everything together. After 50 minutes is up, take the lid off and check if the potatoes are done, by pricking them with a fork. They should be, as cutting them into small pieces, shortens their cooking time, however, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.

Serve, with a good drink and a nice loaf of bread

Enjoy!

 

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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: Roasted Vegetable Fusilli

Here’s a simple recipe you can knock up with very little effort in around 30 minutes! I used courgette, tomatoes and pepper, but feel free to use any Mediterranean veg you can get your hands on. Aubergine would be great, but if using aubergine, remember to salt & wash it first!

You’ll need:

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes,
  • 1 Courgette, sliced
  • 1 Pointed pepper, deseeded & sliced
  • 1tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Handful of basil, ripped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g Fusilli pasta (per person)

Turn your oven on to 140°C and let it come up to speed. Whilst this is doing, in a roasting tray, add the chopped veg, oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Toss it around until the sweet, oily, vinegary mixture has coated each vegetable piece. Place in the oven and leave for 20 minutes, only checking halfway through. This is the time you can get on with the pasta.

Weigh 100g of pasta per person, I used 200g as it’s for myself and my partner, Tom. Boil around 1 litre of water in a kettle. Once boiled, add the water to the pan and salt liberally. Nigella famously said (albeit it a Anna Del Conte quote 😉 ) that the water should be as salty as the Med Sea. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente.

Once done, drain and add back to the pan. The roasted vegetables should be ready by now. Take them out of the oven and stir through the pasta. Add in around half of the ripped basil and stir again. It is now ready to serve.

Add to a bowl and finish with a crack or two of black pepper and the other half of the basil.

I paired this rustic yet tasty evening meal with half a loaf of focaccia I had got from Wright’s Food Emporium (an amazing bistro/deli in Llanartne, Wales.) and a chilled Peroni doppio malto.  They paired beautifully with the pasta!

Buon appetito!

Food: Sweet potato moqueca

This recipe started as a way to use up some leftover sweet potato I had in the pantry. By now, it’s one of my weekly favourites. Its super tasty and simple to make!

You’ll need:

  • 4 Medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 Large red onions
  • Glug of vegetable oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbs Of palm oil
  • 2 Bell peppers (I used green & red)
  • 1tsp Of tomato pureé
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1tsp Of dried parsley
  • 1 tin Of peeled tomatoes
  • 100ml Of water
  • 1/2 Of coconut milk
  • 1 Vegetable stock pot
  • Squeeze of lime luice
  • Handful of jalapeños, chopped

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 Cup of rice (per person)
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Water
  • 1 Dried chilli pepper

Garnish:

  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes & chop into thick chunks. Boil them until soft in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

In a cast-iron pot, fry the onions – cut into strips & 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until soft. Add in a green & red bell pepper cut into chunks. Once everything has lost its toughness add in 2 tsp ground coriander, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a big dollop of tomato pureé and a generous amount of fresh coriander. Add 1 tin of peeled tomatoes (taken and chopped into thick chunks on a chopping board) with its juice.

Fill up the tomato tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Then add in half a tin of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice, a vegetable stock pot, a few jalapeños and a tbs of palm oil – or dendê- which you can get online. Thankfully my mum had some Carotina oil – which is sustainably sourced, cold-pressed red palm fruit oil.

Finally add in the vegetables and season to taste. Cook incredibly slow for 3 hours.

Finish with loads of freshly chopped parsley and coriander.

I served mine with coconut rice, which I made by cooking the rice in seasoned water, the other half of the coconut milk and a dried chilli until fully cooked. The result is somewhat fluffy, somewhat sticky- FULL ON comfort food

I served mine with some lime Lemonaids, but a Brazilian beer such as a Brahma, would pair really nicely!

 

Bom apetite!

Food: Armenian stuffed peppers (Dolma)

Having bought loads of peppers on double discount at work last week I had quite a few left to use up. What perfect way than with some stuffed peppers!

I had made a vegan version of Armenian peppers previously, for my Eurovision party- and it was a resounding success. This was surely the way forward.

The finished dish ends up feeding 2-3 people  (we were very full afterwards!)

To make you’ll need:

  • 5-6 medium/large red bell peppers, charred

For the filling:

  • 80g of cooked rice (per person)
  • 1/2 fried courgette, chopped finely  (I used some from an antipasti jar to save time)
  • 2 Lombardi peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

For the mince:

  • 100g green lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped,
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sun dried tomato paste,
  • 1tbs dried parsley
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 1tsp bouillon
  • 1 cup red wine

For the sauce:

  • 1 carton/ jar of passata
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 (Heaped) tbs of pepper paste

Soy garlic yogurt mix

  • 2-3 tbs of soy yogurt (I used Alpro Go On. Which is a thicker Quark style yogurt)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic infused oil
  • A sprinkle of smoked paprika – to garnish

Start by making the mince.

I’d recommend doing this in advance so you have a batch ready for you to use.  We usually have big batches of lentil mince  in the freezer that Tom cooks up whilst I’m in work on a Sunday. It’s so versatile (if you remove the cayenne and mixed spice) and can be made into all manner of creations from pies, ragù, Chilli- you name it!

This batch i’ve included the extra spices as I knew this batch was only for making dolma.

In a small cast iron pot fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add the paste and the purée and heat through. Pour in the lentils and stir until thoroughly coated with the sauce. Add the herbs, spice and bouillon with lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Cover with the water and put the lid on. Simmer for at last forty minutes, an hour won’t hurt – this will allow the lentils to truly swell and soak up all the liquid.

After an hour the mixture should be rich and just about ready. Stir in the wine until the mixture reconstitutes itself – allow to cook through for another twenty minutes until the wine has cooked out. Leave aside to cool slightly, or store overnight/ freeze*

*If using thawed/chilled mince, I’d recommend heating it through before stuffing.

Once your mince is ready the rest is simple and fairly quick to make!

When you’d like to make the dolma, simply put each pepper over an open flame ( I used my gas hob) until it begins to bubble and blacken. Once burnished and black, take off and leave to cool down.

PS: Be careful around open flames! The amount of times the pepper (now a ball of fire) fell off the ring- and I was wearing oven gloves!

As they are cooling I’d recommend cooking the other components.

Cook the rice as you would normally, remembering to cook slightly less than usual as you are stuffing it with a rice mixture rather than serving it with rice. Whilst it’s cooking start the sauce.

Heat up a saucepan and fry off the garlic with the olive oil until translucent. Next, add in the pepper paste and cook for another minute. Then add in the passata and let it simmer until the flavours start developing.

The rice should be done by this point. Set aside and leave to cool.

Return to the peppers and de-core & de seed them, making sure that you cut them close to the top so that you have a vessel to fill. Remember to keep the tops, though.

Grab the mince, empty it into a mixing bowl and combine it with the rice. Then, add in the lemon juice & zest, chopped peppers, courgette and parsley. season well.

Then pour the sauce into a baking dish and sit the peppers in the tomatoey-peppery bath. Fill the peppers up to the brim  with this aromatic mixture and re-hat them with their tops. Place into a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

Once they are in the oven, you can make the topping. Combine all ingredients together, (except the paprika) until it becomes thick & glossy.

Take the peppers out of the oven and de-hat them once again ( no fear they’ll have their hats back on soon enough!) and smother with the  lemony-garlic yogurt. Top with the smoky, fiery paprika and return the tops on (see, I told you 😉 ). Serve with a side salad or on their own

Enjoy!

Food: Spanish porkless stew

My recent affinity with Jackfruit continues with this recipe for a vegan alternative for Spanish Stew, full of the flavours and textures of the hearty Mediterranean classic!

Serves 4.

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 large onion, chopped,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced,
  • 2/3 roasted peppers,
  • 1 tin of butter beans,
  • 2 tbs pimentón,
  • 1 tin of green Jackfruit,
  • 1 tsp tomato paste,
  • 1 tsp chilli powder,
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary,
  • A splash of sherry,
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary,
  • 125ml or a glass of red wine,
  • 2/3 Bay Leaves,

To make the picada:

  • 3tbs flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2/3 slices of stale baguette
  • 3tbs of the stew stock

Start off by frying the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and cut the peppers into small pieces and add to the paste. Let it cook out then pour in the tomatoes and let it simmer while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Drain the Jack Fruit and the butter beans.  Prepare the Jackfruit by cutting the flesh away from the hard, pineapple-like core. Add them, along with the beans, to the sauce.

Then, simply add the spices, the red wine and season with salt and black pepper. Cover with up to 500ml of water and let it simmer while you prepare the picada. A picada is an essential accompaniment to Catalunian stews.

Start by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan. Keep an eye on these as they burn easily. When they’re toasted take them off the heat. Add the almonds and the bread to a pestle & mortar and crush until they resemble rubble. Continuing to grind, add in the stock from the stew bit by bit until it resembles a thick paste.

Once this is done add it back into the stew and stir thoroughly. Next, place into an oven on 140°C and let it cook for 3 and half hours on a low heat. Once the time is up, take it out, leave to cool slightly and serve. Remember to take out the sprig of rosemary and bay leaves before serving!

Enjoy with some crusty sourdough and a glass of red wine (or a crisp cerveza as I did 😉 )

¡Salud!

 

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!!!