Monday, 6 April 2009

Smoked paprika and rose petal curry

Spanish Smoked Paprika has a unique flavour - think "more smoke" and "less paprika". The VegHead has no recollection how, where, when, or even why a tin of this first came into the larder, but ever since it did it's been in regular use. Get a tin. You cannot replicate the flavour by using standard paprika and just nipping outside for a quick puff. There are other brands than "La Chinata", however this happens to be one that we used first and have continued using ever since. It is widely available both online and in most supermarkets, and wherever good smoked paprika is sold.

This pinto bean curry is flavoursome, but not too hot. If you wish to add heat, add 1/2 a teaspoon of your favourite dried chilli powder, or one chopped fresh chilli. Serve with a grain like quinoa, millet, couscous, or barley couscous, or even a side of wok seared spinach and ginger.

Needing:
  • 1 can of cooked pinto beans (yes - it was canned beans night in The VegHead's larder)
  • 1/2 a small celeriac, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • a few slices of onion
  • a clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of rose petals
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • olive oil
To do:
  • saute and onion and garlic
  • add the celeriac, pepper and paprika. Cook over a low heat until celeriac is medium soft.
  • Add the beans and tomato. Stir to ensure everything is evenly covered in spices
  • Once the tomato has softened, add the rose petals and cook for a further 5 minutes on low

Friday, 3 April 2009

Harissa beetroot and aubergine

The VegHead exceeded government guidelines on the consumption of alcohol last night. Thursday was, therefore, a "slow" day. Earlier in the week, prior to this unfortunate slip in decorum, The VegHead and SheWhoMustBeFed had earmarked Thursday dinner as Beetroot and Aubergine Sri Lankan Curry night, on account of having a particularly nice looking aubergine (tight, dark flesh and firm to the touch) as well as two precooked (and un-vinegar-ed) beetroots in the fridge. However, come dinnertime both comfort food and ease of preparation was called for. Thus, I introduce to you "the lazy version" of the curry. Total cooking time is not much more than the time it takes for the aubergine to cook through.

Needing (serves two):
  • 2 cooked beetroots (not preserved in vinegar or salt), cubed
  • 1 medium aubergine, cubed in a chunky sort of way
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans
  • a few thin slices of onion
  • 2 tablespoons of harrisa paste (or more or less to taste)
  • olive oil
  • generous handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/3 cup of coconut milk
To do:
  • sauté the aubergine, beans, onion, and paste in a generous splash of olive oil
  • once the aubergine is cooked, add the beetroot (adding the beetroot later in the cooking process ensures that you end up with some colour variation in the meal. Add it too early and everything just ends up purple. As the beetroot's already cooked, you're really just warming it up and getting it coated it spice)
  • just before serving, mix through the coriander and the coconut milk
Serve with mashed potato a.k.a. "comfort food"

Monday, 30 March 2009

Baked tofu and bean balls

These balls are ideal for either Loinfruits or as party finger food. They bake to a lovely dark golden colour. To ensure that they were easy to remove from the tray once cooked The VegHead cooked a batch in a large muffin (or "cup cake") tray - and used a load of the happy little paper cup cake whats-its. The Loinfruit saw the uncooked balls sitting in the gaily coloured trays before they went into the oven and there was a near riot in the kitchen ....

"Look! It's cakes for dinner!" , said The Loinfruit
"Oh no it is!", said the Nasty Ogre, cruelly crushing their happiness *

Ingredients:
  • 1 block of medium tofu
  • 1 cup of giant Baked Beans
  • 2 slices of bread, finely crumbed
  • 1/3 cup of cashews, finely crushed
  • 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of light tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari
  • pepper to taste
To do:
  • Mash everything together to an even mixture
  • If too wet, crumb another slice of bread and mix through thoroughly
  • Form into firm balls of approximately 5cm diameter, place into prepared paper cups
  • Bake in a hot oven for 35 minutes
(*) "The Nasty Ogre" is a.k.a. "The VegHead"

Broad bean and lemon tagine

Very simple, lightly spiced. Is this Moroccan? It is cooked in a tagine and it does use preserved lemon, which are two hallmarks of Moroccan cooking. However the thyme is generally thought of as more Mediterranean than North African. The herb is however widely used across the region and in as comfortable in Middle Eastern cuisines as Italian and Greek. Who knows. Quit asking difficult questions and just eat!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of shelled broad beans (*)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • a few thin slices of red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of light miso
  • 1 small preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each of fresh thymes leaves, and fresh lemon thyme leaves. Chopped.
  • black pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • water
To do:
  • If using frozen broad beans, bring them to a rolling boil for a few minutes first in small saucepan. Doing so will reduce your cooking time for the tagine in the oven by up to 45 minutes compared to what it would have been had you put the frozen beans straight into the tagine! Use the boiled water as stock in the tagine.
  • Thoroughly mix everything, making sure the miso is dissolved evenly
  • Add enough of the water to cover the beans
  • Bake at inferno setting in a preheated oven for around 45 minutes (or about 90 minutes if you didn't thaw your frozen broad beans!)
* Broad beans are one of the few vegetables The VegHeads keeps in the house "snap frozen". The VegHead and SheWhoMustBeFed adore fresh broad beans when they are in season and we will happily shell them and then individually peel them - there's nothing like fresh broad beans lightly steamed or quickly blanched. However The VegHead once weighed all the discarded shells etc and confirmed the suspicion that when you buy fresh broad beans by weight you are paying for one third edible beans, and two thirds compost feed. And they're not cheap to begin with. So any other dish we cook using broad beans (which generally means a tagine) we use organic, snap frozen broad beans instead.

Shittake Mushroom dip

You have to take a break from hommous every now and then don't you? Though the Bamix eventually gets a little itchy for some blending.

What's in the fridge?

What's in the fridge?

Hmm....some nice shittake mushrooms, and a bag of fruity brown gilled mushrooms too...

Mushroom dip....yumm....

The following is how The VegHead would make it next time, as the first time it ended up a little sloppier than the ideal consistency.

Need to find in your fridge:
  • 4 to 6 large shittake mushrooms, chopped
  • an equal amount of open gilled "standard" mushrooms, chopped
  • an equal amount of pine nuts (by volume), fairly finely crushed
  • 2 thin slices of red onion
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • olive oil
  • teaspoon of dark sesame oil
  • teaspoon of mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tamari
  • tablespoon of tahini
  • ground pepper
きのこののり作成方式 (*)
  • Lightly sauté the shittake mushrooms together with the garlic, onion and pepper in a little olive oil
  • Blend the cooked shittake mushrooms etc together with the raw mushrooms.
  • Add the nuts, and the sesame oil, mirin, tamari and tahini. Continue blending to a smooth paste
Store in a covered container in the fridge, lightly drizzled with a little more olive oil. Try to finish it within 3 days of making.

* Roughly translates as "The method of making mushroom paste"

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Roast butter bean and celeriac

The cumin/pepper/ginger sauce used in this is originally from a "Marinated tofu" recipe from some or another commercial cookbook that populates our shelves. It has become a widely used marinade for beans, broad beans, tofu, cauliflower and lots more. Its just one of those sauces that "works".

You will need:
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans
  • half a celeriac, peeled and cubed to approximately 2cm cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper (this will make it fairly spicy)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cm of ginger root, grated
  • a generous splash each of tamari, olive oil, mirin, and toasted sesame oil
To make:
  • Mix everything together in a bowl
  • Pour mixture into a lidded baking dish (take the lid off before pouring)
  • Just cover with water
  • Bake at inferno for 45 minutes
Served with a large bag of baby spinach leaves, lightly stir fried with chopped mushrooms, and a light sprinkly of (vegan) Worcestershire sauce.

So THATS what you do with a Celeriac

In this age of political correctness, it is unacceptable on the whole to use the word "ugly". We're meant to dress things up and pretend we live in some sort of Disney version of the world where we're all happy shiny people, living happy shiny lives and there's never anything truly offensive.

However there are some pretty ugly things out there, lets face it. Ugly buildings and developments. Ugly abuses of human rights. Ugly truths like climate change. There's probably even some little part of you that you find ugly about yourself, maybe that small toe you dropped a brick on one day. Maybe that nasty nagging in-grown hair. In the US alone $1900,000,000 was spent last year on cosmetic surgery to change what someone thought was a little bit of ugly.

So lets be honest and admit that in the world there are some ugly things.

Like celeriac.

When the Flying Spaghetti Monster was handing out characteristics the celeriac was all the way at the end of the line for looks. In contrast, think of an Orange. There is a fruit that so epitomises its colour that it is called the colour. Or vice versa perhaps. Then there is the rich, fragrant simplicity of the basil leaf. The endless velvety form of our mushrooms.

And then there's the celeriac.

Like you, The VegHead has looked at a pile of celeriacs sitting amongst the potatoes, carrots and so on and wondered exactly which planet it transported in from. Just where is Planet Fugly? All the while however you have to admire its pluck. The power of the supermarket is so strong that they can dictate exactly what colour an apple can be, and which shape is suitable for bananas, cucumbers and tomatoes. Its like the celeriac is just sitting there smirking and thinking "Go on...try to regulate me into some lovely package".

The celeriac is the ugly man in the room of same-same Hollywood blandness, the person so outstandingly out of place with ugliness that you eventually cross the room at the party to go see what the story is. Because there has to be one right?

So The VegHead bought one. Which is different from knowing what to do with it. So to save you the same searching on Google here is what you need to know:
  • they're good for roasting, boiling and mashing
  • they need to be peeled
  • they'll smell like dirt before you peel them and have a light celery smell to them once peeled
  • they oxidise very quickly once peeled, so only cut and peel them just before cooking or they'll blacken
  • lemon apparently slows the blackening
  • they can bitter if not cooked properly. If boiling, place into boiling water not cold water (and brought to the boil) as the latter method makes them bitter
  • most of the nutrients are just under the skin so don't peel too deeply
So far, The VegHead has only tried it roasted with some spices. It was good. More experimention to come. Leave a comment if you know of any good recipes using celeriac.

And remember; all the freaky people make the beauty of the world.

Potato and bean balls

The Larger Loinfruit polished off nine of these together with a salad for dinner, and had to be dissuaded from stealing a tenth off the plate of the Smaller Loinfruit, who isn't as keen on them and who would have been happy to foist one off his plate if he could have got away with it.

These balls cook to a lovely light golden colour, however their popularity meant there were none left to pose for the camera so you'll just have to take The VegHead's word for it. Perhaps next time the potato paparazzi will be in town.


All well as keeping Larger Loinfruit fed, these are a good grown up party finger food, and can be made and refrigerated ahead of time and placed into the oven 20 minutes before you need them.

When you roll the balls, aim for a bit smaller than a squash ball.

The following makes about 12 balls, depending on how large you make them.

You will need:
  • 1 large potato; peeled, boiled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup of cooked butter beans (or haricot)
  • 1/4 cup of finely ground roasted cashews (not salted variety)
  • 1 slice of wholemeal bread, finely crumbed
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of cumin powder
  • 1 fine slice of red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
Get all dressed up and go to the Potato and Bean Ball:
  • No black tie required, but roll up your sleaves and make sure someone is around afterward to turn on the tap so you can wash your hands
  • Lightly saute the onion and garlic in olive oil
  • Mash all ingredients together
  • Knead lightly until mixture binds fairly well
  • Form into evenly sized balls
  • Grease a baking tray lightly with olive oil
  • Lightly brush each ball with same oil
  • Bake in a medium oven for 15-20 minutes
This recipe is courtesy of SheWhoMustBeFed

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Quite possibly the perfect hommous

Most of the world's religions have a central theme of mankind's continued path toward knowledge and redemption. No less than Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, the Latter-day Saints, The Jehovah's Witnesses, The Rastafari movement, various Islamic faiths including Sunni and Shia, Dick Cheney and the rest of the lunatic base of the US Republican Party, Zoroastrians and Buddhists and a few others too subscribe to the idea of End Times. In almost all cases a series of events, some small and seemingly insignificant, and some calamitous and far reaching will herald the end of humanity's reign on the material planetary plain of existence, while the faithful ascend to a better place where 17 organic, fairly traded, low love-mile virgins await all.

Last week my friends we all jiggled just a little closer to the end. A sign was there to see if your eyes were unclouded by the lurid distractions of supermarket ready-meals. Last week, the perfect hommous was invented.

Remember the teachings of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. The BKWSU believe in a 5th age called the Confluence Age, a time of both a total annihilation of humanity by Nuclear weapons, civil war and natural disasters; and revelation of perfect hommous making. Watch out for the next indicator - McDonalds turning into a vegan paradise. Meanwhile, enjoy this dip while awaiting the doors of paradise to be opened.

If you want to recreate this miracle you will need:
  • 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 2 teaspoons of tamari
  • 2 teaspoons of thick, sweet balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of mirin
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
To do:
  • Very lightly saute the garlic in a small amount of the oil
  • Bamix everything to a smooth paste

Berbere Paste

The origin for this paste is The World Food Cafe cookbook (kudos).

The variations are that the following recipe quadruples all the portions, uses some Smoked Spanish Parika, and adds a lot more oil. A batch will last at least two months in a jar in the fridge. It is easy to make, though there are a lot of ingredients and it takes a while to make, so it is worth making enough to keep you going for a while. The amount of salt and oil may seem excessive, but remember that when you use the paste you're only adding about a tablespoon of the paste to a dish.


Ingredients:
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 3cm piece of ginger - grated
  • 1 large red onion - chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
  • 2 tsps of cardamom seeds (remove seeds from pods)
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 2 tsps fenugreek seeds
  • 16 cloves
  • 4 tsps cumin seeds
  • 28 medium sized dried red chillies - these grind up easier later if they are chopped or cut up before roasting
  • 8 tsps paprika
  • 8 tsps of spanish smoked paprika
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup of olive oil
To make:
  • Dry roast all the seeds and the chillies for about 8 minutes in a hot oven. Adjust time as required to avoid the seeds burning.
  • Finely grind all the seeds and the chillies in either a mortar and pestle (in batches) or in a food processor.
  • Bamix the onion, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste, using a little of the oil if necessary
  • Bamix in the powdered spices, salt, and the ground up spices, together with the rest of the olive oil. It is best to do this by adding a little more spice and a little more powder...and blend...and add some more....and blend.
  • Keep in a sealable jar in the fridge.

Turmeric Tofu Quiche

The VegHead reckons that scrambled tofu with fresh turmeric roots is about as close you can to breakfast perfection this side of another hour in bed with SheWhoMustBeFed. This quiche is a slight variation on the same theme (scrambled tofu that is).

Ingredients:
  • Make a pie dough and line a quiche dish with it (preferably a two piece dish with separate sides and base).
  • One packet of silken tofu
  • One packet of medium firm tofu - mashed
  • Cornflour or egg replacer
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup of roughly grated courgette
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • few slices of onion
  • 4cm of a finger thick fresh turmeric root, grated using a ginger grater
  • fresh italian herbs to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • oats (to sprinkle on top)
  • olive oil
  • tamari
To do:
  • Lightly saute the onions, garlic, firm tofu and mushrooms in the oil and tamari
  • Add the herbs and grated fresh turmeric
  • Meanwhile, thoroughly mix the flour into the silken tofu using a fork
  • Add to pot and mix thoroughly
  • Mix in anything else left
  • Spoon into the pie dish and sprinkle generously with oats
  • Bake on high for 40 minutes or longer if need be.

Roasted pumpkin soup

There was left over pumpkin in the fridge - maybe about a cup of it mashed up. Ten minutes later it was soup for SheWhoMustBeFed. The VegHead had a salad roll instead.

Needing and doing:
  • about one cup of left over roast pumpkin (any skin peeled off)
  • saute a few slices of onion with olive oil and a dash of tamari
  • add 3/4 cup or so of cooked haricot beans to the onion and mix through over a low heat
  • separately bamix the pumpkin, together with about the same amount of water, half a teaspoon of miso paste, and a teaspoon of tomato paste. Add more or less water to achieve the desired consistency
  • add the pumpkin to the pot and bring to a low simmer
  • garnish the soup with a few slices of avocado, and serve with a crusty roll

Berbere haricot beans in pumpkin

England has much going for it. So much that a list of all the truly fantastic things, the wonders, the fond little quirks in all their blessed, thatched glory, oh that would be a long list indeed. Best to leave all that for now and instead simply make the observation that England generally has crap pumpkins. This of course is due to a grave misunderstanding involving a pumpkin, a farmer, and a cow.

Some time long ago, before reality television and ABBA, some English farmer had a bumper crop of fabulously flavoursome pumpkins. The farmer ate them steamed, roasted, mashed, in soups and stews and pies and a hundred other ways until he nearly turned orange. Eventually he could eat no more, and wanting to share his bountiful harvest he chopped up what was left and fed pumpkin to his cows. Eventually his neighbour Ol' Jim, who was a few herbs short of a Bouquet Garni, took this to mean that pumpkins were only fit for cows to eat. Ol' Jim's son surprised everyone when he later went on to found Tesco's, a company which through its almost complete buyer-side dominance of farm produce trends has sadly contributed to the demise of a truly yummy pumpkin in this country.

And so now you can rarely find a really nice pumkin, and the range of choice is sadly devoid of Queensland Blues, and offers mostly "butternut squash". The butternut pumpkin is a hit and miss affair in The VegHead's experience. They're rarely truly fabulous on their own though they have a nice enough flavour. Sometimes however they can be quite woody and an overall letdown. If you don't know what a butternut pumpkin looks like, well they're something like what a particularly boastful Papua New Guinea hills tribesman might wear as a gourd.

As luck would have it, Ginol Silamtena, the creator spirit of Papua New Guinea's Korowai tribesman was smiling on SheWhoMustBeFed when she last bought a butternut pumpkin. It was a particularly flavoursome individual, with the added bonus of being well shaped to stand upright on an oven tray. Most of the "nose" of the gourd had already been used to make pumpkin soup, that the Loinfruit's declared worthy of a B+. What was left was the seed pod end, together with about 5cms of the nose.

Lets get to partying with the pumpkin shall we?

Needing and doing together:
  • If it weren't already obvious - a pumpkin. Butternut if you must, or a better one if you're especially blessed by Ginol Silamtena. Cut around and down into the "Cavern of Seed" which a very sharp and thin bladed knife, in such a way as to allow the "lid" to be replaced back on later.
  • Scoop out all the seeds and the webbing with a sturdy spoon. Trim the lid.
  • Measure out enough cooked haricot beans by almost filling the voided pumpkin and then tipping them back out into a bowl.
  • Lightly saute a generous scoop of your favourite olives, together with a tablespoon of berbere paste. Once the paste has dissolved mix the beans through gently and thoroughly.
  • Return the mix to the pumpkin. Extra points if you managed to make a perfect amount of mixture so that there is none left over (though now what will you snack on while dinner is cooking smarty-pants?)
  • Secure the lid back on the pumpkin using 3 or 4 small metal skewers (wood skewers will snap for sure if you try to jam them in)
  • Roast on a tray on high for 45+ minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft.
  • Serve with a selection of other vegetables

Not enough words to go around

The VegHead's day job involves a fair degree of writing. Not Tolstoyesque in proportions you understand, just more than the average peak hour train full of commuters. The volume of articles, blogs, reports, papers and the like tends to vary up and down to the tune of twenty thousand words plus or minus a week, all set against the background noise of emails and hum of actual conversations.

Words feed our minds, and are the fruits and the gristle of our everyday social interactions. Our minds are also the larders, within which are the spicey imaginings, sweet whispers, wholeseome advice and raw opinions that pepper our conversations.

But our cupboards can all too frequently run bare. Thursday night dinners for instance in the VegHead's kitchen is also known as "Whatever is left by now as Friday's are shopping day". Especially those weeks when we've all eaten so well that the worms in the compost bin have been given only the peelings and the offcuts and never a wholly uneaten bag of greens. Everything used productively until there's nothing left save the jars of pressure cooked beans.

The larder however has been restocked again - all those words that were used up in the hearty meals of day-job utterances renewed by a few days of home cooking. SheWhoMustBeFed must be fed after all, as did The Kennedy's when they came for dinner....but that is another story.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Smaller Loinfruit's Pea and Corn Fritters

The Smaller Loinfruit likes these fritters a lot, and insists on making them himself. No really....insists....woe betide anyone who dares to touch a spoon or even worse flip a fitter in the pan.

Its all good...Loinfruits need to be in the kitchen, to make something that they like eating, and be exposed to the dangers of knives and flames and in doing so become comfortably competent with them.

Your Loinfuit may need help getting the following from the cupboard:
  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of bicarb soda
  • egg replacer made up to 1 egg
  • soy milk
  • 1/2 cup of peas (blanched if freshly podded, or straight from packet if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup of corn niblets (boiled if on the cob, or straight from packet if frozen)
  • virgin coconut oil for frying the fritters
The Loinfruit will insist on doing all of the following steps by themselves:
  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • Add you-won't-believe-its-not-egg and stir through
  • Add soy milk slowly, beating in with a spoon. Aim for a fritter mix type consistency. Which is about the same as porridge. Which if you're not familiar with is a bit like a pikelet mix consistency.
  • Mix throughthe peas and corn
  • Heat a heavy based frying pan, and after some oil spoon some mixture in to create an even fritter that is about 12 cms across. Advanced Loinfruits may have two or more fritters on the go at the same time if the size of the pan permits.
  • Fry until light golden brown underneath, and the uncooked side is noticeably beginning to "cake up" yet is still wet.
  • Flip, and allow other side to cook
  • Get Mum and Dad to do ALL the cleaning and washing up afterwards. After all, they've had nothing to do while you've been working hard....
PS. If you don't have Loinfruits then these fritters are also good as quick snacky finger food. The fritter mix can be a good vehicle for anything really. Add some spices, or onion and garlic, or chopped carrots or courgette, or fresh coriander, or some chopped lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf or...or...or....

Banana Bread

Alliterative names improve the flavour of meals. A well-known fact of course; doubters need only to observe the use of the technique by those doyens of persuasion - the clever marketeers. Well do they recognise the truth that food names that sound good have developed in our vocabularies for food that tastes good, and are good for you. Our brains and higher cognitive capabilities naturally acting in harmony with our senses and self-awareness.

Originally anyway, until the phenomena was recognised and described by the US' FSA and Kellogs University in 1957 in a study sponsored by a consortium of wheat and corn industry bulk producers and market speculators. The group was seeking ways to use the emerging technologies of television and wire communications to create new markets for their products, as they faced declining rates of margin as crop yields increased due to mechanisation, profligate use of fertilizer, and a cheap Mexican labour force. Having learned that tastes can be influenced by the sound of the name of the food, they turned this evolutionary useful vocal quirk into a weapon of mass persuasion.

Which is why Banana Bread is good for you. Why it tastes really very nice. Why it is easy to make. And why it fills the house with a scent while cooking that makes you want to go "Hhmmm!"

Better bring bags of these for the banana bread...

* 1/3 cup of sunflower oil
* 1/2 cup of organic raw sugar
* 2 heaped teaspoons of linseeds, soaked in 2/3 cup of room temperature water for 15 minutes (use the water in the final mix)
* 1 3/4 cups of white stone-ground flour
* 1/2 cup of almonds, finely ground in the bamix whizzycupthing (or use whichever inferior method you wish if you do not have a bamix)
* 1 teaspoon of baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon of salt
* 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarb)
* 1 cup of mashed overripe bananas (usually 3 to 4 bananas). The best bananas for this are ones that are several days into their black skinned phase. Once peeled, cut of any really mangy bits however bruises and mushy bits in the flesh are no problem.

Bringing banana bread into being...

* Thoroughly mix everything together
* The bread will rise better if you "whip" the final mix for 5 minutes or so with a fork or a whisk
* Pour mix into as large and shallow a baking dish as you have. The banana bread doesn't rise much, so baking in a deep dish will result in an over heavy cake brick. Use a quiche tray, or a baking tray (3-4 cms deep) or similar. Also works well in muffins trays, if they are lined with paper cups.
* Bake in a prewarmed oven at 180C (350F) for twenty minutes, or a little more if needed

OK....lets be honest....this isn't "bread" it is "cake". But lets keep that to ourselves.

This recipe was shared with SheWhoMustBeFed by her friend The Stitch'n Bitch.

PS. The first two paragraphs of this post are works of sheer free association.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sunday breakfast

One word my darlings.....mushrooms.

I always wanted to be a funghi...

ras-el-hanout and pepper

Take about half a teaspoon of ras-el-hanout, and mix with the same amount of roughly ground black pepper. Keep handy in a "pinch pot". An interesting variation on having pepper on the table...

Just a little thought...

Vegetable stew with polenta dumplings

SheWhoMustBeFed made a batch of polenta a day or so back. She might have been a little ambitious with the amount she made - we seem to have more dishes of polenta in the fridge than we know what to do with. One with onion and garlic mixed through it, another with a dash of ras-ek-hanout, another plain with corn nibblets mixed in.

This casserole is made from whatever vegetables are to hand, some haricot beans, and a few big lumps of polenta which act as dumplings, soaking up a big slurp of flavour from the sauce.

You need...
  • SheWhoMustBeFed to come and make you some polenta. If she isn't available, then go ahead and do this step yourself. Each "chunk" of polenta ought to be a fair size - say about that of an egg
  • a random delection of vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, brassica...)
  • a cup of cooked haricot beans
  • 1/2 a medium onion - chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (or more...or less)
  • big handful each of fresh parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme - chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of light miso paste
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 2 cups of water
To be, to be, do be doing...
  • lightly saute the onion, garlic, and chilli in a generous splash of olive oil
  • add everything else except the fresh herbs and the polenta
  • bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer and allow to bubble gently away until the vegetables are nearly cooked
  • add the herbs and give it a few minutes more
  • add the polenta. If you just dump the polenta in and stir it through it will likely break up and dissolve so a little care is required. Place the polenta on the top of the stew, and then get each to sink into the sauce by pushing aside the vegetables under each piece with a spoon. Leave covered, off the heat, for 5 minutes for the polenta to soak up some juice
  • serve, eat, get out of washing up if you can

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Golden cauliflower in a glorious sea green bed of ginger spinach

Your powers of multitasking will be required to create this dish of two stir fries. The cauliflower takes a little longer to cook, as the spinach is just being wilted, so start that cooking first. The golden colour comes from a mixture of powdered turmeric, as well as some grated fresh turmeric root.

In the golden cauliflower...
  • half a red onion - roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 3 cm length of turmeric root - grated using a ginger root grater
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of spanish smoked paprika
  • olive oil for frying
  • Saute all ingredients together in a heavy based pan - should take between 5 and 10 minutes
In the glorious sea green spinach...
  • a generous colander full of washed and well drained spinach leaves
  • a generous handful of green beans - topped and tailed and halved
  • a cup of chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 4cm length of ginger root - grated
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • a splash of tamari
  • olive oil for frying
  • In a large wok, saute everything. Start with the garlic, cumin, mushrooms, and beans, cooking these on their own for about 1 minute. Add everything else and toss to ensure even mixing
Serve, with the spinach arranged in a ring around the plate, and the golden cauliflower in the centre. Squeeze half a lime lightly over the meals before serving.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

TGV Pumpkin soup

Travelling to Cannes last week on the train, The VegHead knew that the rail buffet sarnies would be as edible as a monkey's earlobe. The day before travelllng, this soup was made, then warmed up again just before leaving and poured into a thermos.

Paris never seemed as welcoming...

In...
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pumpkin - boiled til soft
  • 1/2 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 teaspoon of Berbere paste
  • olive oil
  • water
Do...
  • lightly saute the chick peas with the paste
  • mash the chick peas with a fork
  • blend the cooked pumpkin with some water, to your desired soupy consistency
  • mix through the mashed chickpeas
  • take the train to Cannes. Take some pita bread with you. Go to the buffet car when you're hungry and ask for a large waxed paper cup to pour the hot soup into. Watch the fellow passengers eating vending machine sandwiches and feel superior.

Broad bean hommous

SheWhoMustBeFed fffzzzzzz'd up the pressure cooker today, so it was the VegHead's duty to follow up with some hommous. Unfortunately, SheWhoMustBefed was doing three batches of beans; adzuki, chickpea and butter beans. The adzuki beans got done first, leaving The VegHead with an hour before having anything to do as the chickpeas weren't ready.

How to pass the time?

Fiddle...fiddle......fiddle.....

Decided to lightly saute the garlic and cumin for the hommous.

Then had time to think and so decide to use half and half chickpeas and broad beans.

Fortunately by then the chick peas were ready!


What went in...
  • half a cup of cooked chick peas
  • half a cup of blanched broad beans
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • olive oil
  • french walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
Doing....
  • very lightly saute the garlic and cumin in a little olive oil
  • blend / bamix everything together

Monday, 2 March 2009

Cous cous and bean stack

On Saturday night, SheWhoMustbeFed and The VegHead had a bean tagine, with a side dish of cous cous and stir fried broccoli spears. Thus yielding some left over cous cous. There are few better ways to create the two cups full of cooked cous cous thaqt you will need for this dish. Remember that and you're life will be moderately more glorious.

This dish also relies on having some Giant Baked Beans handy.
And its not a bad idea to have some Pesto in the fridge too.

Ingredients....
Cous cous layer:
  • 2 cups of cooked cous cous
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds
  • 1 tablesoon of dried italian herbs
  • fresh rosemary and thyme - chopped
  • a few thin slices of onion - chopped
  • 1 clove of glaric - crushed
  • pepper
  • a generous amount of olive oil

Regular readers may notice that al that was basically a stuffing recipe, only made with cous cous, hemp seeds, and oats rather than bread crumbs.

Bean layer:
  • 1 cup of giant backed beans
  • 1 cup of chopped cauliflower florets
  • teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of spanish smoked paprika
Making a party in your baking dish...
  • Mix up each layers worth of ingredients into seperate bowls
  • In a baking dish, dvide the mixtures into 4 even layers (meaning two layers of each), starting with a layer of the beans and cauliflower.
  • Mix about one tablespoon of pesto with an equal amount of water. Evenly spoon over the top of the last layer
  • Bake in a covered dish, on high for 45+ minutes
  • Server with roasted or steamed vegetables, and a boat of gravy if you're feeling indulgent.

A dill homecoming stew

Returning from Cannes was heartened by a Thursday Stew, made by SheWhoMustBeFed. Friday's are the main shopping days for the The VegHead's larder, so Thursdays are always "What's left in the fridge and cupboard day". Dill is a lovely, soft, flavoursome herb. I wonder why the word is also used as an insult?

Serve with Quinoa.

Things that will need to be left over in the fridge come Thursday...
  • a few slices of onion - chopped
  • two cloves of garlic - crushed
  • one cup of cooked haricot beans
  • a small courgette - chopped
  • one medium sweet potato - chopped
  • 3 medium cup mushrooms - chopped
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) of chopped, fresh dill
  • tablespoon of dark miso (dissolved in water)
  • pinch of cumin
  • ground pepper to taste
  • olive oil
Making the stew...
  • Saute the onion and garlic
  • Add all the vegetables, the pepper and cumin. Saute for a few minutes, then cover with water. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add the miso and beans and simmer for an additional 5 minutes
  • Add the remaining herbs and simmer for a few minutes more

Not eating out of Cannes

Cannes is a crap place to visit if you are seeking a gastronomic vegan experience. The VegHead spent the majority of last week there as a public service to any and all of herbivorous persuasion. Getting there and back involved trains, trains and automobiles.

First Great Western to Paddington, Tube to St. Pancras, Eurostar to Gard Nord, TGV from Gard Lyon. Four trains and a thousand miles from The VegHead's kitchen and the raging appetities of SheWhoMustBeFed. According to Googlemaps, if you walked from here to there it would take nine days and twenty minutes to cover the 824 miles. It is not clear if that time and distance includes toilet stops, detours to the nearest ATM, or sleeps. How do they work that stuff out? Its a mystery...

Cannes is a vegetarian desert. Like a real desert, I am sure that if uou know where to dig you'll find hidden oases of plenty. However, all that appears to the view is an endles vista, empty of sustenance and full of the irritatting grit of disatisfaction. Eat out of Cannes? I'll take a home cooked meal anyday.

Friday, 27 February 2009

SheWhoMustBeFed's Nutballs

Warning - these are not in fact vegan, as they contain honey. You could swap the honey for maple syrup if you wanted. Though we can't attest to the affect that might have on consistency or flavour - but maple syrup is yummy so it should be lovely.

These are truly moreish. Eat one...and you'll want more, more, more...oh dear you've split in half.

You will need:
  • 250g pack of almonds
  • honey (or not)
  • cashew butter or peanut butter
  • dessicated coconut
The way of making the balls:

  • Roast the almonds, probably for about 15 minutes or so, at a moderate temperature.
  • Allow to cool slightly, and grind to a medium grind with a food processor. Get a dessertspoon and get as much honey as you can get on it and add to the almonds. Repeat.
  • Using the same spoon (or a clean one if you’re really fussy), take your nut butter and do exactly the same as you did with the honey, including the repeat.
  • So now you have ground almonds with 2 big spoons of honey and 2 big spoons of nut butter.
  • The mixture needs to be combined and will be quite sticky, so you need adequately strong wrists. Remember to roll up your sleaves before you start or you'll need to call out to a friend to help you do so afterwards.
  • Roast some of the dessicated coconut for rolling. This will burn very quickly once it starts to roast so you need to watch it. The dessicated coconut should be fairly finely ground. If it is a coarse grind then make it just a bit finer with a bit of a go in the food processor. Keep the coconut handy in a bowl.
  • Form the almond mixture into balls about an inch or so in diameter, but you can make them whatever size you like really. Roll each ball in the roasted coconut.
  • Eat.
  • Store any that may be left in the fridge……if they last that long.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The flow of happiness

A reading from A Grateful Heart, by The Bandit.




Lovely. She should do voice overs.

The Bandit and Octavia's Daughter come for dinner

Octavia's Daughter's favourite film is 'Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging'

Snogging sadly, gets in the way of chewing your food properly. Also, care must be taken to avoid parsley between the teeth, and an aversion to garlic and onion may become a nasty habit. So much for THAT film then..

On to the rest of the story.

The Bandit and Octavia's Daughter came by this afternoon. They have already paid for their meal by way of their news that the local library sells off their excess stock of books for the bargain basement price of 50p for a shopping bag full. Clearly the library could do with some lessons in signposting, as SheWhoMustBeFed hasn't noticed that goings on for five plus years.

What to make a houseful? Quick look in the fridge settles it on Fragrant Vegetable Tagine along with Haricot bean tagine. With some cous-cous to the side.

Yum...and Octavia's Daughter is meanwhile playing the piano, while The Bandit irritatingly tries to look over The VegHead's shoulder while he types.

Manners! On the decline everywhere!


PS. 'Wild Child' also gets the nod by the way for favourite file. Perhaps the perfect reel of celluloid for Octavia's Daughter.

PPS. Octavia's Daughter contributes the following

:) xoxoxox <3>

Fragrant Moroccan Vegetable

A not at all hot, but very fragrantly spicy vegetable tagine. Lets hope that The Bandit and Octavia's Daughter like it. If they don't, their warm jackets and car keys are just to hand.

What was in the fridge and might just be in yours:
  • 2 courgettes - thickly sliced
  • 1 sweet potato - cubed
  • 1/2 a medium aubergine - cubed
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and segmented
  • 1 medium tomato - cubed
  • 1/2 a cup of your favourite olives
  • 1 small preserved lemon - chopped
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of crushed dried chilli
  • 1 cup of boiled water
  • Olive oil
For making a party in your tagine:
  • Pre-dissolve the miso in the hot water
  • Mix everything into the tagine
  • Bake at inferno setting for 45 minutes
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Haricot bean tagine

This was made as a companion to Fragrant Moroccan Vegetables, for The Bandit and Octavia's Daughter. The two tagines nestled together snugly in the oven while the loinfruits made occasionally disturbing thumps in the lounge room.

What you would need:
  • 3 cups of cooked haricot beans
  • 1 cup of passata
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ras el hanout
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 cup of boiled water
  • Olive oil
For the doing:
  • Pre-dissolve the miso paste in the boiled water
  • Give everything else a good mix before slopping it stylishly into the tagine
  • Add more water if necessary
And bake in a stinking hot oven for 45 minutes or so. As always, this will cook in that time if the tagine and the oven are preheated while you're preparing everything.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

What to do with a cup of left over Thai Fried Rice

When The VegHead was a teenager he spent many an afternoon getting up to mischief with a friend who for the purposes of this blog we'll call "770". Living still with our parents, it was to their fridges that we turned when the fires of teenage hunger called for a shovel load of fuel, before we rushed out to do something constructive like change a differential.

770's mum (bless her, lovely woman and still alive and kicking to this day) was...how shall we say this in a manner that accurately captures the respect and affection The VegHead has for this woman....well.....shall we say dotty sometimes. Delving into her fridge was an exercise in exploring the wild and wacky world of the leftovers that inhabited it.

770's mum was never a fan of Tupperware either (and who could blame her), preferring instead to use old Flora Margarine containers. Finding the actual real tub of margarine generally involved finding three or four scientific experiments first; clicking off the lid from a container only to discover exactly what does grow on the half a dozen egg yolks separated off two weeks earlier when they weren't need in that pavlova recipe. Indeed, opening the fridge in the first place generally gave access to a heady mixture of smells, reminiscent of the rich humus to be found on the floor of a rain forest. Vaguely comforting, and yet vaguely suggestive of extensive mould growth.

It must also be said that this theme has not been entirely escaped in later life. SheWhoMustBeFed's mother is rather fond of refridgerated biological experimentation. In her case however she tends to brew up a storm in jars and proper Tupperware containers, which at least has the redeeming feature of keeping the scent of decay more firmly sealed within.

Left overs however are generally a good thing. They allow for good quick meals when you don't have time to make something from scratch. Left overs are also a sign that you cooked enough to serve everyone generously, but that everyone has the sense to eat only sufficiently and not gluttonously. Just remember to eat the leftovers before they plan a revolution.

Here's what to do with a cup of leftover Thai Fried Rice. It'll take less time than it's taken you to read this post so far.

You will need:
  • One cup of fried rice (obviously)
  • A really big handful of spinach leaves
  • Dark sesame oil
  • Crushed macadamia nuts or cashews
To make:
  • Reheat the rice in a covered saucepan, adding a smidgeon of water if you need
  • Lightly saute the spinach in the sesame oil
  • Serve the rice over the bed of spinach, sprinkling with the nuts
A very nice and quick lunch.

Its all the same, only different

The VegHead is basically lazy. Give me an easy way out and I'll be halfway to the door before you've finished putting your jacket on to follow. And so it is with creating new meals. Why start entirely from scratch when you can borrow so much from something you already know how to make? This theme is a large part of The VegHead's You can cook EVERYTHING on a BBQ summer range of recipes....which we will get to in due course as the weather warms enough to find The VegHead outside and chasing the woodlice out from their winter of nibbling on the cold scraps around the BBQ plate.

A lazy way to make a new meal is to simply take all the same ingredients you'd use for an existing meal, and think about cooking them in different ways and in different combinations. For instance, last week The VegHead cooked Thai curry. Only it wasn't; it was a stir fry on a bed of curry fried rice. Exactly the same ingredients as might have gone into a curry (OK....didn't use coconut milk in this case), but a different end result.

Moreover, changing the method and order of cooking generally means the time taken to make one meal from the same ingredients might be substantially different than the time taken to make your usual meal. Whether that's a good thing or not depends onthe circumstances, but the opporunity is there to discover a truly useful and delicious variant.

New flavours emphasised, different textures, and a refreshing view on the plate.

Simple stir fry - to go with the Thai Fried Rice

The Thai Fried Rice would be a great summer salad, however it was originally made to be a companion to this vegetable stir fry. Put together the two meals include a reasonable range of vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli, mushrooms) as well as tofu, rice and nuts. This meal is deliberately quite plain, by virtue of the fact that the fried rice is made with curry paste, and so carries the heat and the bulk of the flavour in the meal.

Ingredients:
  • A large pile of purple sprouting broccoli spears. Cut off the knarly bits from the ends of the stem and roughly chop any really large spears. The VegHead always thinks that the size of any pieces in a stir fry is less important than the fact that all the pieces of any one ingredient are of a consistent size, so that they reach "cooked" at the same time.
  • a slightly smaller pile of mushrooms, sliced. Use either shiitake or standard cup mushrooms, or whatever lovely funghi you can get your greedy little hands on.
  • 1/2 a (standard sized) block of medium/soft tofu. Cube.
  • 1 cubic cm of ginger - grate using a ginger grater
  • tamari
  • peanut oil
To make:
  • Stir fry it all. If you need me to explain how to stir fry, you shouldn't be trusted near a naked flame and you ought to have cereal for dinner instead. Ask Mum to help you use the scissors to cut the cereal packet open.
  • Serve on a bed of Thai Curry Rice.

Thai Curry Fried Rice

Somewhere deep in The VegHead's brain is a powerful cluster of synapses that take control every time I think of the words "fried" and "rice" used in that order. Despite anything I might try to do, into my mind pops the words "Flied Lice" instead, said in a fake Asian accent. "Fried ice-cream" remains fried , "rice pudding" remains rice . Put the two words together and the "r" regresses seven letters back. What event seared this neural connection into my the structure of my brain I cannot say - the crushing disappointment of finding that the last slice of cake has been licked by the cat. Don't know. Too late for therapy. Time to just cook...

This is a very simple fried rice; before getting to the ingredients list let me just say a few words on how much curry paste you'll need. The answer is "it depends" - on how hot your curry paste is and how hot you like your food. So here's my best advice. Imagine you were cooking a Thai curry for dinner. However much paste you'd use in that curry (for the same number of people you're cooking for) then use one sixth of the paste in this dish. You'll need much less as the heat of the paste isn't tempered with the coconut milk.

Ingredients (enough for two people and probably a little leftovers in the fridge afterwards):
  • 1 cup (dry) of brown Thai rice
  • 3/4 cup of corn kernels (either boil fresh sweetcorn and cut off the cob, or use frozen)
  • 3/4 cup of peas
  • Yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
  • 1/3 cup of macadamia nuts - roughly chopped. Substitute with cashews if you need.
  • Peanut oil
To make:
  • Cook the rice using the boil/absorption method, along with the curry paste. If you're unfamiliar with this method - in a saucepan, cover the rice with about 1" (2.5 cms) of water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the water has almost entirely been absorbed. Then turn off the heat and leave covered in the saucepan for 10 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, lightly stir fry the corn and peas in a heavy pan.
  • Once the rice is fully cooked it will have taken on a pleasant orange colour from the curry paste. Add it to the peas and corn. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick too much.
  • Stir the nuts through and serve immediately, perhaps with a simple stir fry of vegetables.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Kudos

Thanks to Compender.com for the tag cloud code.

Spelt bread

Baked bread again yesterday. Follow this recipe, however replace half of the wholemeal wheat flour with stoneground spelt flour.

Is good yah?

Tunisian Puy Peppers

The spirit of Tunisia entered The VegHead's kitchen last night and held a little party in the oven. Tunisia, or more accurately the Tunisian Republic, or even more accurately al-Jumhūriyya at-Tūnisiyya, or if you want to show off اجمهورية التونسية sounds like a fairly nice place. Check it out here.

The word "Tunisia" has a degree of French lineage, which perhaps explains the ability of the puy lentils to cross the cultural barriers and get on so nicely with the Tunisian Spice Paste in this dish. Puy lentils are considered by The VegHead to be the best lentil - for three reasons. Firstly they have a lovely and unique peppery flavour. Secondly they hold their shape during cooking. Thirdly, they don't make The VegHead unpleasant to be near the next day (well....no more than usual). Pub trivia note: They're the only lentil to be identified by area of cultivation - grown in the Le Puy region of France.

This dish relies on having a jar of Tunisian Spice Paste from Oil and Vinegar. While we generally try to avoid specific, ready made ingredients in these recipes it does seem that Oil and Vinegar have stores in quite a few countries, from the UK to UAE to USA to RSA to Oz, and a few more in between. Their web site however is crap, and you don't seem to be able to locate the Tunisian Paste via their product search. Oh well....you can't be good at everything can you?

This is one of those meals where the component parts are all very simple, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is simply a stuffed and roasted capsicum, with wok fried cavelo nero and potatoes as side dishes.

The Capsicum

Ingredients:
Note 1: the following quantities are listed per person
Note 2: the quantities of the lentils and mushrooms are approximate and you may need to adjust up/down based on the size of the capsicum
  • 1 large orange/yellow/red capsicum
  • 1/2 cup of cooked puy lentils
  • 1/2 cup of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped red onion
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of passata
  • 1 tablespoon of Tunisian paste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 wooden skewers
To construct:
  • Cut out the stalk end of the capsicum, making a hole that is large enough for you to get the stuffing in, but not so large that you just cut the capsicum in half. You're a clever person, you'll figure this out! This bulk of the seeds should lift out with the stalk section; slice off the soft flesh that holds the seed ball and compost.
  • Mix all other ingredients thoroughly
  • Stuff the capsicum to just below the lip of the hole. Ensure that it is firmly filled by gently pressing with your fingers
  • Replace the stalk lid
  • Use the skewers to hold the lid in place, pushing each one through the lid at an angle and down through the flesh of the body of the capsicum on the opposite side. The trick here is to angle the skewers such that once you've got all three in, they have emerged to form three legs that support the capsicum upright as it cooks.
  • Lightly brush the outside of the capsicum with a little olive oil
  • Bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes
The potatoes
  • Cube and roast an orange sweet potato, sprinkled lightly with some italian herbs
  • Boil some desiree type potatoes, and smash them with some soy milk and French Walnut Oil
  • Gently mix the roast and smashed potatoes before serving
The Cavelo Nero
  • Wash the leaves and drain. Remove any gnarly stem ends
  • Chop roughly. Slice any thick stemmy bits along the stem
  • Stir fry with a little olive oil in a hot wok - it will only require a few minutes at most
Serve the capsicum on a bed of the cavelo nero, with the potatoes to the side.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

A week in the VegHead kitchen

Seven days in the VegHead kitchen do not seven new blog posts make. Well not every week anyway. Nevertheless, the flame of the cooktop continues to burn with a cheery blue.

This week The VegHead and SheWhoMustBeFed have wrapped our laughing gear around:
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- A variation on a bean based Moroccan Tagine
- Pesto pasta with butter beans and mushrooms
- Chick pea curry
- A simple meal of tofu slices fried in tamari and olive oil, with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables
- Pizza
- and something else I have clearly forgotten about...

Just don't want you to think we've been slacking off the pace here....

Bolognese sauce

Just like La testa di verdure himself used to make in the old country!

What you'll need to make the best vegan bolognese sauce ever:
  • 1 block of tempeh – grated
  • 1 carrot – grated
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion – finely chopped
  • 4 large fresh tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes if you have to)
  • 1 knob of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small aubergine, cubed; or chopped mushrooms; or both if you’re hungry
  • 2 tablspoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablspoons of miso paste
  • 1 tablspoon fresh whole pepper corns (don’t substitute dried ones – must be fresh or the world will be consumed by Godzilla like monsters)
  • 2 tablspoons dried seaweed
  • 1 ½ cups of red wine; plus a glass for you – You’re Worth It!
  • Fresh picked herbs - chopped; parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, 3 bay leaves
  • (Optional – 3 small hot, red chillies, chopped)
Fabbricazione dell'amore nella vostra cucina:
  • Lightly sauté onions in a truly excessive amount of olive oil until clear
  • Add garlic, and chillies and sauté for an additional minute; low heat
  • Add tempeh and sauté for an additional minute. Be careful it doesn’t stick
  • Dissolve tomato and miso pastes in over medium heat, with red wine and chopped tomatoes
  • Once tomatoes have released some of their liquid, add all remaining ingredients
  • Simmer on low heat for at least 45 minutes – covered. Alternatively, if cooking in advance simmer for 30 minutes, covered; then turn off heat and leave covered before reheating for 10 minutes to serve
Serve with your favourite pasta

Its a hing thing

Hing is the Indian name for asofetida, which together with a big, fat, grated root of fresh turmeric is the spice that gives the most to the flavour of this chick pea curry. Many recipes have asofetida thrown in to the hot oil at the beginning of cooking, together with the other dried spices and chillies. However The VegHead finds that its flavour is overcome and lost if this is done, and prefers instead to sprinkle a little in once most of the cooking has been done.

Friday's are the principal shopping day for the VegHead larder, and so Thursday nights tend to be "whatever is left" night. A shiny black-skinned aubergine begged to be eaten, and a pile of orange sweet potatoes just cried out to be culled somewhat. These, together with the big jar of chick peas in the fridge formed the basis for dinner.

The Thursday night larder:
  • 1 medium aubergine - cubed
  • 1 medium sweet potato - cubed
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small onion - diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes - chopped
  • 1 chilli - chopped
  • 1 thumb sized turmeric root (substitute 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder if unavailable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • small pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of asofetida powder
  • 1 tablespoon of miso (or substitute vegetable stock)
  • sunflower oil
  • water
  • corn flour (or other thickening agent)
To do:
  • dry roast the spice seeds for 10 minutes or so, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle
  • roughly mash the chick peas with a "potato masher"
  • fry the dried spices, chilli, onion and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes (if using powdered turmeric add at this stage too)
  • add the chick peas, sweet potato, and aubergine. Mix thoroughly and cook covered over a low heat for several minutes
  • add the tomato and miso, and enough water to cover. Bring to a steady, low simmer and maintain until the sweet potato and aubergine are tender but not mushy
  • if using fresh turmeric root, grate and add now (best to only grate fresh turmeric root just before using or it browns quickly through oxidisation). Also add the asofetida powder. Simmer for another few minutes.
  • thicken the sauce. The easiest way to do this is to scoop out the vegetables into a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving just the sauce in the pan (off the heat). Then spoon out a little of the sauce into a small bowl, add a little corn flour, and mix all the lumps out with a fork. Then add the corn flour mix back into the rest of the sauce in the pan, and mix through thoroughly over a low heat. Then add the vegetables back in. This might sound fussy but it ensures a lump-free thickening experience at the expense of two extra bowls and a slotted spoon in the washing up.
  • bring the saucepan back to a low simmer
  • serve with rice or idli

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Never be mean to an aubergine

Never be mean to an aubergine
Even if they're not your scene.
Their gorgeous purple hue
Can on the branch split in two.
A single stem with mirrored parts
A passionate purple kitchen heart.
A whimsical, unexpected treat
Clearly nicer than eating meat.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bread day

Bread day. Recipe is already here. It just looked so glorious that I took a picture.

One thing that I have now entered into the annuls of Kitchen Lore is that a heavy, cast iron bread dish is absolutely the best thing in which to bake the loaf.

Chilli Con Tofu


A very simple, but not very picturesque meal that The VegHead and SheWhoMustBeFed enjoy very much is a Mexican "Chilli Con Tofu". Its best served with some plain (brown) rice, and perhaps some soy yoghurt.

And so it was last week, and in doing so The VegHead allowed a little whimsical spontaneity to enter the kitchen. Thus leading to the simple arrangementt of avocado slices on a flat glass plate to create a bowl, which served to hold the yoghurt. Meanwhile some black olives were skewered with tooth picks - half a dozen to a stick. One for The VegHead and one for SheWhoMustBeFed. The toothpick sticks stopped the olives escaping. Olives generally sit fairly passively in a bowl awaiting their fate, but the flat nature of the serving plate on this occasion gave them adventurous ideas of rolling away. A stick through their gizzards soon put an end to their plans!

And seeing as the chilli is very good to eat, but quite boring to take a picture of, we have a picture of the side dish instead.


For the Chilli Con Tofu you will need:
  • 1 cup of cooked kidney beans
  • 1 block of soft/medium tofu (meaning a medium grade, but hopefully on the softish side)
  • 1 medium tomato - chopped
  • 1 small onion - chopped
  • 1 green capsicum (a.k.a "green pepper" if you're from Disneyland) - chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 1 fresh chilli (or more or less to taste, or substitute equivalent chilli powder)
  • A large blob of tomato paste
  • A large blob of dark miso (or a vegetable stock cube)
  • A small blob of peanut butter
  • 1 generously heaped tablespoon of cumin powder (yes TABLEspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • olive oil
  • water
To make:
  • Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli and powdered spices in a generous pour of olive oil
  • Add the beans. Crumble the tofu in - don't cube the tofu, mash it which will allow it to soak up more of the flavours. I don't want to find you using some masher implement here, I want to see you connecting with your food and using your hands. Squeeeeeeze it through your fingers! Stir it all together until the tofu and beans have been thoroughly coated with the spices.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients, together with a cup or more of water. It often helps if you pre-dissolve the miso, tomato paste and peanut butter in some boiled water.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • If it doesn't taste "mexicanny" enough - dump in more cumin.

Food for the mind

This is meant to be a blog about the goings on in The VegHead's kitchen. OK.....with the occasional foray to feed the compost and to observe the wonders and worries of buying local, organic, fresh, glorious food.

However our stomachs aren't all that need feeding. Our minds too need to be stretched with new ideas. To be nourished with the richness of a poetic tumble of words. To feed our appetite for change within ourselves and within the world through the truth and strength of the story of another. To curl on a comfortable chair on a cold day, a cuppa to hand as some quiet music plays. Reading. Reading something that will change us, rather than crap Hollywood gossip.

Someone asked The VegHead just a few days ago "When was the last time you cried?".

A question most timely perhaps as those rare, hot tears have been flowing most profuse this last week. The onions (for a change) are not to blame. Instead the catalyst for The VegHead's expression of emotion has simply been the most extraordinary story.

The.
Most.
Extraordinary.
Story.

"Three cups of tea" - The story of Greg Mortenson's life; building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Living better than we do involves treating those around us in a fashion that recognises the fundamental truths of the problems we face. My words fail to capture the simple complexity and honesty of Greg Mortenson's life so I will leave it there.

If you feed your mind nothing else this year, feed it this.

Really.

I'm a funghi, but I'm feeling a little green

You see what I've done there don't you? "Funghi"...."fun guy"...oh the wit. When you've stopped guffawing just pick yourself up off the floor and hold together your split seams.

This pasta dish uses the Balsamic Butter Bean Salad and tosses it over some pesto tagliatelle pasta. Simple...hearty...colourful...what more could you want?


You will need:
  • A batch of pesto
  • A batch of Balsamic Butter Bean Salad
  • 1/2 glass of white wine (I'll leave it to you to figure out what to do with the other half a glass)
  • Spelt tagliatelle pasta (or penne, or whatever)
Now ze doing:
  • Cook the pasta as per instructions on packet
  • Meanwhile; dump about 3/4 cup of the pesto into a small saucepan, together with the wine. Simmer (covered) over a low heat until the wine is reduced, stirring regularly to ensure it doesn't stick.
  • Stir the pesto/wine sauce through the cooked pasta, together with an additional teaspoon of fresh pesto (the pesto has raw garlic in it - so you're cooking most of it and then just adding a little "raw" pesto in to sharpen up the taste a little)
  • Serve the pasta, then top with the (warm) bean salad

Balsamic Butter Bean Salad

It can't be summer....not where The VegHead is anyway. The give away is the fact that its very white outside, and more white stuff is falling from the sky. So it must be either snowing, or a CIA aeroplane carrying a cocaine shipment has exploded in mid-air overhead. As Kate Moss is absent from the scene...it's probably snow.

If it was summer then perhaps this salad would perhaps be being served to guests as we sipped Pimms into the long English evenings. It is very nice either warm, or "room temperature" (have you ever wondered "Which room?").

Anyway...this ended up being the basis for a pasta dish for dinner last Thursday. I was going to write up the recipe for that, until as she was eating dinner SheWhoMustBeFed exclaimed "Hey...isn't this the butter bean salad thing with balsamic vinegar?". Clever thing she is...


So instead of writing up that dish in full, it seemed more sensible to write up this dish, and then in the recipe for the pasta dish just refer back to this. Are you following?

Needing:
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 cup of small fresh button mushrooms
  • thick, gorgeous, sweet balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • tamari
Do it to me baby:
  • Peel the onion and top and tail it. Halve it "across". Then quarter each of those halves. Then peel apart the layers, making little "cups" of onion.
  • Very lightly saute the onion in a little olive oil
  • Add the mushrooms, beans, pepper and tamari. Continue over a low heat for a few minutes.
  • Heavily drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  • Stir and serve

Sunday, 25 January 2009

You can't cycle to the Indian Grocery and then have pizza for dinner













The happy occurrence of the presence in the larder of fresh turmeric root, as well as methi leaves means that it was Indian on the menu last night in The VegHead's kitchen.


Chick pea and brinjal to the left, and Methi Shaak Potatoes to the right. Kept from fighting with each other by a few Idli, each topped with a dop of (soy) yoghurt.

Not a great photo - but who takes a SLR to the dinner table every night?

Chick Pea and Brinjal with tumeric and methi leaves

This recipe relies pretty heavily on you having some fresh Turmeric Root. Though turmeric root is the source of the more common dried turmeric powder, it has a subtly different flavour. Turmeric root should is best grated on a ceramic ginger grater, just before you need to add it to the dish - it oxidises very quickly and then the bright orange turns a rusty brown.

The act of grating turmeric root is also recommended for anyone who wishes to go to an X-Files themed fancy dress party as The Cancer Man. It is incredibly staining, and even if you immediately wash your hands your finger tips will be left with an orange tinge reminiscent of a 2 pack a day habit for a day or so. It is quite a cheerful colour actually and will serve as a happy remembrance of a lovely meal even as you sit the next day in yet another interminable business meeting getting a numb arse, and an earache from all the corporate nonspeak.

Ingredients:
  • a small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 baby brinjal (aubergine), cut into thin wedges. It is best not to cut the brinjal until just before you need it, as the cut flesh quickly oxidises and turns brown.
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom (seed) pods
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 6-7cm (approx) long turmeric root, grated
  • 1 cm (approx) of ginger root, grated
  • tablespoon of light miso paste (or similar vegetable stock source)
  • 1 cup (approx) of methi leaves
  • (up to) 1 cup of water
  • vegetable oil
Zee making:
  • de-pod the cardamom seeds from the pods, and then dry roast together with all the other dried spice seeds for 5-10 minutes. Then grind to a course powder in a mortar and pestle.
  • saute the spices, together with the onion
  • add the chickpeas, tomatoes, miso paste, garlic, grated ginger and water and simmer for ten minutes on a low flame
  • add the brinjal and the grated turmeric root continue to simmer for a minute or two. The brinjal should best be still a little crunchy. Simmer longer however if that is not to your taste.
  • stir through the methi leaves and serve
* Image of turmeric root sourced gratefully from www.food-info.net