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!

 

Food: Vegan Irish Stew

With St Patrick’s Day celebrations over the last weekend why not try something traditional but with a Vegan twist? This simple recipe is made with TVP chunks which, I’ve found, aren’t that easy to track down! My packet was bought whilst on holiday in Llandrindod Wells! In any case, it comes dried in a bag and looks like misshapen croutons, but these swell to make delicious but firm soya pieces that can be used in a number of creative ways.

You’ll need:

  • 100g TVP pieces,
  • 2 medium carrots,
  • 2-3 medium potatoes,
  • 1 large onion,
  • 2 Bay leaves,
  • 1tsp of all purpose seasoning,
  • 250ml boiling water,
  • 250ml of Irish stout (I used Carlow brewing company for M&S Irish Stout as it’s SFV)
  • 1tbsp of dried thyme,
  • 50g barley or oats,

 

Prepare the TVP pieces first by covering them with boiling water in a bowl with the seasoning. They should begin to swell to nice, meaty pieces.

Peel and chop the onion and soften in a little oil over a medium heat in a decent sized Dutch oven, then peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into nice chunky pieces. Add these to the onions and pour over the boiling water and the stout until the veg is more than covered. Combine the barley or oats along with the TVP pieces and their broth into the pan and stir. Season with black pepper, dried Thyme and the Bay leaves. Check the saltiness of the water for preference. The seasoning can be quite salty so be careful when adding more.

Give the whole thing a good stir and then cook in the oven on a medium heat for forty minutes. When it’s ready the broth will be rich, the TVP will be soft but hold their shape and the vegetables will be cooked but not disintegrating. Enjoy with some crusty bread or potato farls and a liberal glass of stout, I paired ours with another couple bottles of Irish Stout brewed for Marks and Spencer’s by Carlow Brewing Company. Making the most of finding vegan friendly Irish stout
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Sláinte!

Food: Jackfruit cawl

To celebrate St David’s day, I’ve done my take on the Traditional Welsh dish, cawl.

Cawl is an institution in Wales, the cornerstone of hearty home cooking that dates back to time immemorial. It’s traditionally a simple, peasant dish and is similar to vegetable soups from around Europe and the British Isles.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 Tin of green jackfruit

  • 1 tsp Light Soy Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Gravy granules

  • 1 Large parsnip

  • 1 Large swede

  • 3 Medium potatoes

  • 2 Carrots

  • 1 Large leek

  • 1 Onion

  • 1 Bayleaf
  • 1 Veg stock pot

 

Method:

 

The base of the cawl couldn’t be simpler. Peel and chop all of the vegetables – the parsnip, leek and carrots into coins and dice the rest into cubes. Soften the leek and onion in a little oil and then add the rest of the vegetables. Cover with hot water from the kettle and bring to a gently boil. Season with lots of black pepper and the stock cube. Stir, cover and reduce to a simmer for half an hour or so or until the veggies have cooked. The natural flavours of the vegetables, especially the parsnip and the swede really come through and don’t need any other herbs to be added for authenticity.

 

While the vegetables are simmering you can prepare the jackfruit. Drain and de-core the jack fruits then cut the pieces into chunks. Heat the gravy and the soy sauce on the hob in a splash of hot water to make a rich marinating sauce. Add the bayleaf in. Place the jack fruit in a baking tray and cover liberally with the sauce. Bake in the oven at 140°C (fan) or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the oven and wipe away any excess sauce. The sauce will have permeated the fruit so don’t worry about wiping away your hard work.

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When ready to serve, ladle the vegetables into a bowl with enough of the broth then place the pieces of  jackfruit into the bowl, sharing evenly between guests. Serve with crusty bread and strong (vegan) cheese with a hearty pint of ale for the full experience.

Mwynhewch!

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: Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Remembering this pizza combo being made on the Canadian comedy-cooking show ‘Bitchin’ Kitchen‘ I just had to try it out!

I think the one on the show had Parmesan in it or something. It was a while back. Wanting to make it Vegan friendly, this is my own interpretation of the original recipe.

 

You’ll need:

  • 500g ’00’ flour or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dried yeast (not fast-action)
  • 400ml warm water
  • oil, for greasing
  • 6 small potatoes
  • handful of fresh rosemary
  • A drizzle of garlic infused oil
  • A pinch of rosemary salt
  • Salt & pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbs of sundried tomato paste
  • 1tbs passata
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used rosemary & basil)
  • 10g dried herbs ( I used dried rosemary & oregano)
  • 1tsp garlic infused oil

For the dough I used this recipe from the good ‘ol BBC. Reliable and straight forward, I often go to them for the foundations of my cooking.

Whilst the pizza dough is proving, doing its own thing, I’d make a start on preparing the topping.

In a bowl mix together the sundried tomato paste, passata and ketchup together. I used ketchup to add a bit of its familiar sweetness. Place into a small saucepan and bring to a low heat to cook through, so the flavours can all start to meld. Next, add the herbs (fresh and dried) and cook for a few more minutes then take off the heat and leave to cool.

Next, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender enough to put a fork through. Strain, then leave to cool. Once cooled, cut the potatoes into small coins. Now,  it’s all ready for when you want to make the pizza. For me, straight after a busy shift in work.

Kindly my bf did it before he picked me up, but I’d recommend you preheat the oven to its hottest setting.

Once home it was all systems go. Time to spread the sauce onto the dough. To get the nice rectangular shape we rolled the dough out until it was as flat as possible, then we used the rectangular baking tray to mark out the sides. Finally we cut the shape so that it would have those nice, sharp edges. Any extra bits can be saved or made into mini pizza bites! We then placed the dough on an oiled flat baking tray.

I would recommend putting the sauced dough into the oven for 5 minutes. This will alleviate any soggy bottoms. When the sauce has been sufficiently ‘set’, take it out of the oven and place a layer of the potatoes on top In this order, sprinkle some rosemary leaves over the top, drizzle some garlic oil then a crack of pepper or two. Repeat until you can just see a few bits of the sauce poking through. Finally, sprinkle some rosemary salt on top and place into the oven for approximately 15 minutes. and enjoy its salty, herby, buttery goodness. This is a carb-fest that you can’t help but love!

We paired it with some balsamic dressed leaves and a couple of ice cold pilsners.

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!