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: 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: Salt baked vegetable soup with hay ash

Based on the NOMA dish of vegetables salt baked with hay ash, I was inspired to make this soup. It combines my love for plant based cookery with a nod to New Nordic cuisine.

 

You’ll need:

For the salt dough:

 

  • 450g (2 cups) of plain flour
  • 112g (½ cup) table salt
  • 200ml (1 cup) warm water

 

For the soup:

  • 2 Small turnips
  • 1 Large Potato
  • 2 Medium carrots
  • ¼ Celeriac
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 1 Medium leek
  • 500ml water
  • Black pepper

 

To finish:

  • 1 tbs hay ash (I used a handful of hay, bought here)
  • 1tbs Oatly crème fraîche
  • 1tbs Seaweed black caviar (available to buy from IKEA)
  • 1tsp rye bread crumbs
  • A sprinkle of Saltverk lava salt

 

To make the dough, simply mix the salt and flour together in a bowl, whilst slowly adding the water until it comes together into a dough. Knead it for a few minutes until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll out to 3-4mm thick on a floured surface.

Cover the vegetables, until they are all wrapped up cosy in their salt dough blankets. Make sure you seal all the corners. Use a pinch of water if you need to make sure they are glued shut. You want the vegetables to steam in their own moisture in the oven. Place the vegetables in a baking dish and then into the oven on low (140°C) for an hour and a half.

During this time you can start prepping the hay. Get a handful of hay, place into a baking dish/ metal box and in a well ventilated area, set it alight with a match. Leave it burn down to ashes. Have some water/ emergency equipment on hand, just in case. Once it has turned to ash, you can use them to add an earthy, smoky, bitterness to a dish.

Once the vegetables have finished baking, they should have become fudgy, with their flavour, intensified. Break open their shells and place on a chopping board. Be careful at this stage because they are hot and you don’t want any stray pieces of the dough casings. Peel the celeriac, the skin should come away easily. Chop all of them up into small chunks, and add them one by one into a lightly oiled pan, starting with the leeks. Add the water and stir on a medium heat. Season with black pepper. The dish shouldn’t require more salt but taste test at this point just in case. Place the lid on and let it cook for a good 20 minutes on low.

Once removed, place into a bowl and whizz together with a stick blender until you get a smooth and even consistency. To serve simply replace into the pan and re-heat on low if needed.

To garnish, add a dollop of Oatly craimè fraîche to the bottom of the bowl and then finish the soup with sprinkle of lava salt, rye crumbs and the hay ash. Rest the caviar on the island of craimè fraîche.

(I’d recommend pairing it with a full bodied porter or IPA, I paired ours with an Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Food: Carrot salmon & spinach lattice

Following from the success that was my fishless fishcakes recipe, I wanted to see if I could make “carrot salmon” the star of the dish, which is where the lattice pastry came in. This recipe is a perfect alternative for a salmon en croute and with Mother’s day on the horizon would be a perfect treat for any mam/mum!

You’ll need:

  • 4 medium/large carrots, peeled cut into coins,
  • 2 tbsp of Nori Flakes/ ½ sheet of Sushi Nori (cut into pieces),
  • 1 tbsp of dried dill,
  • Handful of dill stalks,
  • 1tsp dill oil (optional),
  • Salt & pepper,
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 200g frozen spinach,
  • Zest of 12 lemon,
  • Juice of 1lemon,
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped,
  • Glug of garlic oil,
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff-pastry
  • 1tbs aquafaba
  • 1tsp non-dairy milk (I used Oatly)

To garnish:

  • Sprinkle of salt (I used Saltverk black lava salt)

 

To begin,  boil the carrots until soft in salted water mixed with the dried dill, the stalks and seaweed.

Meanwhile, fry the onions in a pan until translucent. Set aside for later.

Once they’re done, drain and remove the stalks. Mash the mixture until you achieve a flaky consistency. Set aside in a bowl and leave to cool.

Then add the lemon juice & zest, the onions, the garlic oil, the fresh dill, and the frozen spinach. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up, during which point the spinach would have thawed.

Once firm & slightly dry, mix the now thawed spinach through the mix. Season to taste. Roll out the pastry and cut a box net, this is so you can wrap the filling up, leaving a window at the front. Leave a square of pastry aside, though, for making the lattice. Cut this into thin strips.

Place the filling at the centre and begin to place on the lattice strips, I did it in a diagonal formation, to give the impression of fish scales. Feel free to change it up, though! Once happy with the design, start to fold up the edges. At this stage if theres excess, you can fold it back down and simply trim it. Once folded, crimp each corner and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof.

Place into a pre-heated oven (180°C fan) for 25 minutes. Check and turn and place back in for another 20 until golden brown. Take out the oven and let to cool slightly.

Serve with some green veg, parsley potatoes and a crisp glass of wine.

 

Enjoy!

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Food:Pep up your porridge!

Everyone knows a good breakfast is the cornerstone of a good day, right?

 

Sometimes we skip it, thinking we’ll grab something on the way, or worse sometimes, we settle for a breakfast that’s merely adequate rather than sublime.

Now, most people wouldn’t think of porridge as being sublime, but the nice people at GRØD would humbly disagree. This Danish company has taken porridge (Grød, after all, is the Danish word for porridge) and in 2011 was determined to “show the world that porridge can be delicious, delicate and versatile”. It’s more than just chucking a load of ingredients in and hoping for the best, there is a knack to it.

Ever since I visited their porridge boutiques in Copenhagen, I’ve been inspired to make an original and interesting bowl of porridge every Sunday morning.

So, with that in mind, here’s a handy guide to bringing your ‘A Game’ to breakfast.

Compotes & jams.

Jams can make what was a dull, hearty gloop into a sweet treat! But, as much as ‘a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’ you can use jams and compotes to elevate the humble porridge gastronomically.

Whenever I go abroad, I stock up with all of the interesting jams that you can’t get back home. For instance, In Germany I found a raspberry & passion fruit jam, in Poland – chokeberry, Sweden – Cloudberry and in Denmark – Sea buckthorn. My case is normally bulging from the jars & pots of things I’m determined to return home with! Whilst I’m not asking you to travel the world and smuggle kilos of sugary, interesting goodness back home, I’m asking to think laterally about the traditional flavour combinations that we regularly fall into doing in this country.

Compotes are an easy way to make your own flavour combinations. As I work in a supermarket, I tend to try and snaffle any reduced fruit they have, to make compotes. It’s a challenge sometimes, as some of the fruit I’ve never had before! However, through trial and error I’ve come up with some stonkingly good ones, like peach & rosemary, pomegranate & rose or liquorice and blackberry. Plus, making a compote couldn’t be easier.

Simply fill a pan, quarter way up with water, add a sugar of your choice and then the fruit. Bring up to a boil. This is now the time to add in the spices/herbs/botanicals of your choice, turn down to a simmer and allow to thicken. Once all the flavours are in harmony take off the heat to cool.

Salts.

Hear me out. If you look up the Traditional Scottish porridge they salt their oats, then add the sweetness later. Plus, salt over the past 10 to 15 years has become far more than just a seasoning.

These days you can get salts for everything in a variety of different flavours, all designed to bring some extra dimension to your culinary creations. Seasoning porridge is absolutely essential, otherwise, regardless of whatever else you add to it, the basic ingredient will be bland and lifeless.

So, why not go a little gourmet and interesting? One of my “go to” salts comes from Halen Môn, a homegrown company based in Anglesey (Ynys Môn). Their vanilla salt is a delight sprinkled on caramel, anything chocolate or used as a base for porridge. While the salt brings out the sweetness, the vanilla enhances it. If you’re looking for a variation you can go with Norður Salt, an Icelandic company, who specialise in a range of interesting flavours. They do a blueberry salt and a rhubarb salt which can be paired brilliantly with the other ingredients you decide to add to it.

Perhaps my absolute favourite (though, I may have one or two detractors on this one!) is Saltverk’s Liquorice Salt.
Creamy toppings.

Nothing seals the deal on a great bowl of porridge like a bit of cream! It helps balance the flavours, brings sharpness and adds a touch of velvety luxury. As I tend to cook plant based, the creams are dairy-free. I’ve found that a dollop of ‘Oatly crème fraîche’ (made from oats, naturally) is perfect for giving that extra bit of decadence to what was once a peasant staple. I also use soya products from Alpro like their soy yogurt and quark substitute, ‘Alpro Go On’. I have found that the soya yogurt tends to be flavoursome, a little sweet and quite runny, while the quark gives great acidity and has a great thickness.

Combine the salts, compotes and creamy toppings and you not only improve upon a very simple and hearty breakfast, but personalise it too. The combinations and possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Be creative, flex those flavour muscles and try something new!