Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Curried pancake stack

This is what I made on Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday as an alternative to sweet British pancakes with lemon & sugar…which are amazing btw! Here’s how you can make these for dinner and have the sweet ones for dessert 😉 These are also, omitting the Oatly for  another plant milk/ yoghurt alternative, gluten free too!

You’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 100g Gram (chickpea) flour.
  • 30g Frozen spinach, thawed.
  • 100ml Aquafaba.
  • 2tbs Chia seeds.
  • 1tsp Green barley powder.
  • 1tbs of kalonji / nigella/ black fennel seeds
  • 1tsp Garam marsala.
  •  1tsp Chilli powder.
  • 1tsp Cumin.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Splash of non dairy milk (I used Oatly)
  • 1 Portions worth of leftover curry, vegan in my case.

For the Raita:

  • 2tbs Oatly fraîche/ soy yoghurt
  • Splash of water (If using Oatly fraîche)
  • Thumb size piece of cucumber.
  • Handful of fresh mint.
  • Sprinkle of salt

To Garnish:

  • 6 Bhaji bites
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 5 lingonberry pickled onion rings, learn how to make them here

This recipe is a doddle to make, simply start by heating up your aquafaba on a low heat in a pan with the chia seeds. This should start the chia seeds coagulation process.

Whilst they begin to heat up, you can get your dry ingredients ready. Sieve the spices, green barley powder, gram flour and salt & pepper into a big mixing bowl. Once you can see the chia seeds have began to open and make a gel, take the mixture off the heat.

with a hand blender, pulse the spinach ever so slightly until it begins to break up. Combine with the aquafaba/chia mixture, then add the kalonji seeds. mix until you get a green, gloopy mixture. Now, all you have to do is simply mix with the dry mixture and add a splash of non-dairy milk accordingly until it becomes a thick batter.

Fry in an oiled pan, remembering to spread the mixture evenly. Keep an eye on the level of oil in the pan, between pancakes, you may have to add a bit more oil.

once they are all cooked, stack them on a plate for later.

I had a bit of batter leftover, but not enough to make another pancake. Instead of wasting it, I decided to make these bhaji bites. To the batter I added 1tbs of finely chopped spring onion, 1tsp turmeric and 1tsp paprika. mix and dollop a teaspoon worth into the pan, to which I added an inch of oil. They will slightly expand and bubble. Cook until crispy, but be vigilant as they can burn easily.

Once done, pop them onto some paper towel to drain and pop the leftover curry in a pan/ microwave to heat through.

Whilst you’re waiting for the curry to re-heat, it’s time to make the raita. Chop the mint & cucumber finely, adding to a bowl. Mix through the yoghurt/ fraîche. If you’re using the Oatly fraîche, you may need to add a splash of water to the bowl, as its quite a thick product. Season with salt & you’re done!

Time to assemble!

Layer each pancake with a big dollop of curry, then on the final layer, top with the raita & garnishes and finally crown with the bhaji bites.

It’s great paired with a light & refreshing beer. I made a shandy out of Five Points Ale & Cawston Press cucumber & mint soda and it worked perfectly!

Enjoy!

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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: Mulled cherry tarts

These cherry tarts are a quick and easy way of pleasing guests and delivering the kind of low effort, maximum impact impression we all look for around Christmas time. Whether you’re making them for family, friends or when a guest pops by.

You’ll need:

  • 1 jar of sour cherries in syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 70g of sugar (or more, depending on your sweet tooth!)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 small glass of red wine
  • 1 packet of pre-made shortcrust pastry

Pour all of the ingredients (bar the pastry and vanilla) into a saucepan and simmer on a low heat, allowing the spices to mull for a good 10-15 minutes.

When this is done, fish out the spices and crank up the heat until it’s boiling. Reduce until the mixture is thick and sticky. This is the time to add the vanilla. Stir and pour into a bowl to cool, then begin rolling out the pastry on a flour dusted surface to about 5mm thick.

Use a mug to cut out circles of pastry. Gently shape the circles into a greased tart tin. They should fill the tin but not overreach that much. Experiment with the mug width that works for your tin. When the pastry is loaded, spoon in the jammy mixture until it’s just about level with the pastry. Bake in the oven according to the instructions on the packet. Normally 180°c for about 20 minutes.

Perfect on their own or top couple of warm tarts with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream for a festive treat!

Food: Korma mash stack with Marsala chickpeas

Here’s a recipe for a tasty, easy and satisfying Indian inspired mid-week meal.

You’ll need:

For the korma mash:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom,
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbs Coconut milk (tinned)
  • 2 tbs Nigella/kalonji seeds
  • Drizzle of sunflower oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the Marsala chickpeas:

  • A drizzle of sunflower oil
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tbs of garlic infused oil
  • Half an onion, chopped finely
  • A sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp  ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp Garam Marsala
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger/ground ginger
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

To start, get a deep Dutch oven/casserole dish and place the sweet potatoes in their skin along with drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes with the lid on, this should both roast and steam the sweet potatoes. After this they should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork (depending on the size of your potatoes, of course. If not, simply put them back in until done). Place into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Once cool, the skin should peel away effortlessly. Place the orange flesh back into the Dutch oven and mash until a smooth purée, then put it on the hob on a low heat. Next, add in the spices and cook the mixture until they have infused the mash with the subtle flavours of South Asia, then add in the coconut milk and Nigella seeds. You’ll want to use the thick and creamy tinned coconut milk, rather than the coconut milk you get in a carton. Stir these in until you have a creamy and speckled mash. Season to taste and with the lid on, set aside. Essentially the hard work has been done, the rest comes together very quickly.

Drizzle a frying pan with a little sunflower oil and place on the hob on a medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and fry off until translucent. If you’re using fresh ginger, now would be the time to add it, along with the tomato purée. Then it’s time to add the myriad of spices. Cook it all out until the spices have infused the purée, then add in the drained chickpeas. You should hear them sizzle as they enter the pan. Add in the garlic oil and fry off for a few minutes. With a final blast of seasoning, some ketchup for sweetness and a squeeze of lemon juice they should be done – and you could leave it at that, but for an extra level of texture, spread the spiced chickpeas on to a baking tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. They should start getting slightly crisp.

To assemble, I used a chef’s ring. Simply place on the place and fill 3/4 full with the mash mixture, then top up with the Marsala chickpeas. Garnish with some chopped coriander and voilà – tis done.  We served ours with a lemon, gin, mint and cucumber cocktail, which perfectly compliments the spicy dish with fresh and summery cool.