Archive for May, 2011

May 23, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Beetroot, Carrot, Walnut, Quinoa, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese Salad

Friday 13 May

Okay, are you ready? Here’s the recipe in simplified form.

Roast beetroot. Grate carrot. Marinate thinly sliced red onion in red wine vinegar. Toast and chop walnuts. Chop herbs of choice. Cook quinoa as per instructions. Crumble goats cheese. To quote a good friend, “a plate of sense”.

May 17, 2011

Recipe: Baby beetroot salad with spiced walnuts and goats’ cheese toast

A slightly primped (and yes that letter ‘r’ is intentional – I might have shared a sushi table with Westwood on a solitary occasion, but there be none of that yoof-speak here) version of a classic Beet, Walnut and Goat’s Cheese Salad from the BBC website. Like it. Recipe is here.

May 16, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Kedgeree

Tuesday 10 May

Kedgeree? I hear you gasp? Fish?

Not a chance, mate. Kedgeree (khitchri, kitchari etc, to many people throughout culinary history, was never about smoked haddock or salmon – or even tuna. It was a rice and lentil (moong) dish, eaten throughout the Asian subcontinent, often for breakfast. Rice and peas, basically. This is where our take on kedgeree takes off. It’s so easy to do but does involve a few different pans.

The first pan is used to cook basmati rice until it’s tender but nutty. Once cooked it’s flavoured with dried spices – a little cumin, a little paprika, a little smoked paprika and a little cumin. The second pan is to boil some puy lentils until, again, tender but nutty. The third pan is to fry some halloumi – which for us replaces the smoky fish in most modern kedgeree recipes. The last pan is to hard boil a couple of eggs. If you don’t want to cook all these at the same time, start with the lentils, then the rice, then the eggs, then the halloumi.

Once everything is cooked, combine it all together in a large pan, chopping the egg and halloumi into small pieces. Mix it all through with a fork and then add some chopped flat-leaf parsely.

Finito!

May 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Puy and Portobello

Monday 9 May

Here at ETP Towers we have a standard lentil dish that we serve with feta cheese. I wanted to do something slightly different this time, however, and found a lentils with mushrooms recipe in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Supercook from which this is adapted.

I started by getting the Puy lentils onto the hob to cook. While they were simmering away I fried a chopped onion in olive oil in our big, quite deep, frying pan. After 5 minutes I added three cloves of garlic, the Portobello mushrooms (three per person) and a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes. Add the lentils when they’re cooked (about 25 minutes?) and a glass of red wine. Cover, lower the heat and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Lastly, thin two teaspoons of Dijon mustard with a little water and stir into the stew. Serve with mashed potato or, as we did, some steamed kale.

The lentils would actually make a great base for a Shepherdess Pie.

May 11, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Spring vegetable paella

Friday 6 May

I think a lot of British people associate paella with being a seafoody dish, probably because of summer holidays on the Spanish coast. In fact it’s originally a regional dish from Valencia and, over time, has been made with almost anything that you can throw into a pot – snails, rats, pork, chicken and, yes, seafood, as well as a whole host of vegetables. Peppers, butter beans, artichokes and cauliflower are all popular additions to a paella. Ours tends to change with the seasons. In winter, a paella with cauliflower, peppers and butter beans is a fantastic thing. This spring, I threw the some of the contents of our seasonal veg box at it, plus a few other bits and pieces from the fridge. Not exactly traditional, perhaps, but then dishes like this can be varied ad infinitum.

A paella differs from a risotto in that, as the rice is cooking in its broth, you don’t stir it. There’s no sauciness to a paella, it’s a much drier dish than a risotto and so more closely resembles a biriani. Indeed, an authentic paella – especially one cooked outdoors over charcoal, will develop an almost crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan. Oh, and you need to use either calasparra or bomba varieties of rice or it won’t work.

Our version this week? Sautee a finely sliced onion in olive oil in a wide, shallow pan until it is golden and soft. Add a thinly sliced bell pepper to the pan (seeds removed of course) plus a clove of garlic and cook for a further five minutes or so. Add the bomba or calasparra rice and coat in the olive oil. Add a generous glug of sherry or white wine, or a splash of sherry vinegar of white wine vinegar. Cook for three minutes. Now add a good pinch of saffron strands, a large teaspoon of paprika, a small teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a teaspoon of turmeric. Oh and a bay leaf. Stir in the spices to coat the grains of rice. Add hot water until it comes up a centimetre or so above the rice. Turn down the heat slightly and leave (really, don’t touch it!) until the broth has been absorbed. When it’s done the rice grains should have a pleasing sheen to them and be individual, separate, glistening grains and, while cooked, not puddingy. It will take about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, lightly steam a few asparagus spears, refresh under cold water and set aside. Then blanche and shell some broad beans. As the rice nears the end of its cooking add the beans and some (tinned – they’ll be fine) artichoke hearts. Be careful not to move the rice around to much as you add the veg. They just need to be warmed through, that’s all.

When the rice is cooked add some quartered cherry tomatoes, wedges of lemon (squeeze them slightly into the dish) and place the asparagus spears on the top. Serve.

We always make too much of this and are quite happy to eat the remainder the following day. It works really well.

As for quantities, I’m going to talk about recipes and quantities soon, honest.

May 10, 2011

Lettuce… summer must be here!

For the second day running there’s been something interesting on the Guardian food blog. Today it’s all about lettuce and, while the main feature is pretty bland, some of the comments are quite interesting. I usually avoid the comments on blogs except for those occasions when I’m deliberately trying to make myself angry. Yes, those times do exist. When there are comments on a vegetarian blog it usually takes me about, well, oh, 0.0000001 of a second to turn into a very green Hulking ball of fury. But on this occasion (so far) the comments have been really rather pleasant.

You can read the feature here.

May 9, 2011

Making history

A little post on the Guardian website today about the roots of the Vegetarian Society and the benefits of a meat-free diet. All rather fascinating in a little time capsule kind of way. Read it here.

May 9, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Dhal with coconut cabbage

Wednesday 4 May

Feeling rather strapped for cash, I decided to see what I could rustle up without spending a single extra penny at the shop. So, there was a bag of yellow split peas in the cupboard, a couple of onions lying around, a tin of coconut milk and half a white cabbage that was almost on its way out. Plus spices. What to do? Indian of course.

We love a dhal at ETP Towers and they’re so easy. I made this after soaking the split peas for a few hours first. Then… chop an onion and fry in sunflower oil for 5 minutes. Rinse then add the split peas, plus 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp turmeric and some chilli powder (to your liking). Cover with boiling water – about an inch or so above the top of the split peas and simmer for about 45 minutes until the split peas are thoroughly soft and the consitency is that of a thick sauce. Then stir in a little tamarind paste and a couple of squirts of tomato puree. Chop three cloves of garlic, place it in a metal ladle with a small amount of sunflower oil and heat over the flame of a hob until it turns golden. Stir it into the dhal mix.

For the cabbage, slice an onion and half a white (or green, for that matter) cabbage and stir-fry both for a few minutes in a wok with some grated ginger, mustard seeds and a green chilli. Then add a tin of coconut milk and simmer until the cabbage softens and the milk has mostly evaporated.

Easy. And cheap.

By the way, there’s not much I could do with the photos of this. It’s not stylish food but it’s tasty and nutritious. I feel a mini-feature about food photography and its perils may be in order soon. Watch this space…

May 6, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Ful with hummous

Monday 2 May

Ful is the Egyptian dish of crushed broad (fava) beans with cumin and garlic. It’s often eaten at breakfast but actually enjoyed at any time of the day. The version Ella made was again inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty (see previous post). He warns that it might not look like much but is actually rather filling. And so it should be – a big pile of herby broad beans on a bed of warm, homemade hummous and and an egg on top. That’s one big plate of protein and a rich mix too. There’s something about beans, olive oil and herbs that is heartening – ETP’s butter beans and feta recipe does a similar trick to this. Good old Ottolenghi.

Recipe? There’s a wealth of them for Ful out there, but try this one here and adapt to your liking.

May 6, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Mee Goreng

Sunday 1 May

Having been so busy at work and not getting home until late, Ella was keen to do some cooking. Sunday afternoon saw her turn to Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty for inspiration – where she found this recipe for Mee Goreng.

Mee Goreng is Indonesian (and Malaysian) street food: noodles with fried shallots, chilli and topped with shredded lettuce leaves. There are plenty of meaty versions but we had it with green beans and tofu. A quick web search will give you an indication of just how many versions of mee goreng there are out there – it’s a make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of thing really. Ottolenghi adds sambal olek (chilli sauce) and some ground cumin and coriander to the cooked noodles as they’re frying in the wok with with the tofu and beans. This coats them and makes them sticky – stopping it from being a straightforward common or garden stir fry. I’ve often wondered how you achieve the kind of sticky noodle that you get with, say, a good Pad Thai, and I have a feeling that, more than just the sauce, it’s the adding of the dry spice that does the trick. Any thoughts?

In any case, sometimes you make a dish that’s so easy and yet also expands your repertoire. This was one of those.