Bulgur & Veg Khichree

This recipe is another winner from the book ‘Simple Spice Vegetarian’. It’s actually a mix of rice, lentils and bulgur wheat which I kind of questioned when I first saw the recipe but the mixture of textures and the ability of the different elements to soak up the spices really added something to the flavour. The word kedgeree comes from this word too so you just know it’s going to be good. This is really tasty when you ramp up the ginger content.

Serves 4 (large portions)

Ingredients

  • 200g bulgur wheat
  • 100g rice
  • 150g lentils
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 chilli
  • 5cm ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 150g peas
  • 250ml water
  • salt

Method

1.) Cook the rice and lentils in a pan until tender, Halfway through cooking, add the bulgur wheat. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C.

2.) In the meantime, peel and grate the ginger. Peel and finely dice the onion, carrot and parsnip.

3.) Make a masala paste by adding the turmeric, coriander and cumin in a bowl with a tbsp water and mixing.

4.) In a casserole dish, melt the ghee and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

5.) Add the masala paste and cook until it dries out. Chop up the tomatoes and add to the pan with the carrot and parsnip.

6.) Cook for about 5 minutes then add the spinach and peas and cook for another couple of minutes.

7.) Drain the lentils, rice and bulgur and add to the pan. Add the water and stir everything together. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

8.) Season before serving.

West Indian Pepper Pot

Back when I was a meat eater I used to like cooking some Caribbean curries from Levi Roots book ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy’. Levi Roots actually became famous on the show Dragons Den, selling his own Reggae Reggae sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to succeed in finding a way to make his curries work without the meat so I’ve just looked at that book wistfully when I see it on my bookshelf. When I saw this recipe for West Indian Pepper Pot in Shelina Permaloo’s book ‘The Sunshine Diet’ I was excited to find some Caribbean food I could eat. With the sweet potato this dish was a little too sweet for me but it definitely brought those flavours of allspice and cinnamon that I was looking for. I think next time I would maybe switch it out with some normal potato but I know sweet potato is many people’s bag. I added a bit of quinoa during the cooking time.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 100g green beans
  • 200g kale
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 10g chives
  • 3 spring onions
  • salt

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely dice.

2.) Heat the oil in a casserole dish, add the onion. Cook until soft.

3.) Whilst this is cooking, strip the thyme leaves into the pan and finely chop the chilli. De-seed the pepper and chop into chunks. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes.

4.) After the onion has softened, add the marjoram, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and chilli and sauté for another minute.

5.) Add the pepper to the pan along with the sweet potato, stock, kale and green beans.

6.) Cook for 30 minutes.

7.) Chop the chives and spring onions up finely.

8.) Use these to garnish the stew.

Lentil Bolognese

For me, a classic Italian pasta with Ragu is a big comfort meal. Lentils provide all of the protein in the meal you lack from the minced beef/pork and have just a little bit of chew to mix up the texture. This recipe was from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. I take Italian lessons each week and I’ve learnt that when we ask for a panini it doesn’t make sense as panini is the plural form of sandwich – if you have Italian servers you want to impress, ask for a panino. Learning Italian, it was very difficult going on holiday recently to Spain. The basic phrases you need in both languages are very similar, so I was constantly muddling up the two! Bilbao was beautiful though and I fully recommend a trip and a taste of all their delicious pinxtos (bar snacks).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin lentils (400g)
  • 10g fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 100ml water
  • 320g pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g hard cheese
  • 10g parsley

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the garlic and the onions. Strip the leaves from the thyme. Bash the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.

2.) Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.

3.) Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

4.) Add the tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, red wine, chilli, oregano, thyme, marmite and water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes to thicken.

5.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the cheese, Chop up the parsley and cook the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with some sauce, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley.

Greens Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I continue with my quest to try all of the recipes in the Jamie Oliver ‘Veg’ cookbook with this greens mac ‘n’ cheese. I guess it’s one of those recipes you give to kids where you hide the veggies by putting them with some cheese and pasta. My beautiful cat Earl Grey has developed arthritis so we have to hide his medication by soaking his favourite treat with it to get him to eat it. He’s not a super old cat but he has some inbred pedigree Russian blue genes which is fairly ironic being that we adopted him from a litter of kittens belonging to a stray cat that our friend found. We’re also trying to reduce his weight to help the cause which is unfortunately not working as he seems to be as good at dieting as I am.

I changed things up a bit with this recipe by using some Vivera fake bacon strips rather than the almonds in the recipe. I think it would be great if you can find those smoked almonds they seem to love in Spain.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 400g broccoli
  • 40g butter
  • 15g fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • 450g macaroni pasta
  • 30g parmesan cheese
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese
  • 100g baby spinach
  • a handful of veggie bacon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2.) Slice up the leek and the broccoli stalks, leaving the florets to one side. Heat the butter in a casserole dish and add the veg to the pan. Strip in the thyme leaves and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat.

3.) In the meantime, peel and finely dice the garlic and grate the cheese.

4.) For the last couple of minutes of cooking time, add the garlic to the pan.

5.) Add the milk to the dish and sprinkle over the flour and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.

6.) Whilst this is simmering, cook the pasta in another large pan for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the cheese to the milk sauce then blitz this in a blender.

8.) Pour back into the casserole dish and stir in the broccoli florets and the partly cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

9.) Sprinkle over some veggie bacon and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Madeleines

I was having a Eurovision party and I allocated each country performing a number and drew my guests a country at random. I drew France which was admittedly a much simpler option than say Moldova or Armenia of which I know very little of the food culture. I made some Madeleines which I have made many times before as they’re just so pretty and easy to pass around for a little nibble. The recipe is in Rachel Khoo’s book ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and I believe it’s a good one as the madeleines have got their signature bump. This forms by turning the oven off mid-cooking for one minute and lowering the temperature for the rest of the cooking time. Amazingly, these madeleines were not the only success of the night. The UK actually came second in the Eurovision Song Contest which was a great surprise to us all. I’ve got to say that I think it was thoroughly deserved by Sam Ryder and his brilliant song Space Man.

Makes about 30 – 36

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 130g sugar
  • 200g plain flour (+ extra to flour the tin)
  • 10g baking powder
  • 1 lemon
  • 20g honey
  • 60 ml milk
  • 200g butter (+ extra to butter the tin)

Method

1.) Melt the 200g butter in the microwave on blasts of 10 seconds until all done. Mix it with the milk and honey.

2.) Measure out the flour and baking powder into one large bowl. Zest the lemon and add the lemon zest to this bowl.

3.) Crack the eggs into another bowl and add the sugar. Whisk until light and frothy. Add the flour mixture in batches and fold into the eggs until all is incorporated.

4.) Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours.

5.) When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

6.) Melt some butter and brush the madeleine tin with it. Sprinkle over some flour, Shake the tin, best to do this over a bin or a sink. Tap the end to spread the flour evenly.

7.) Add a tbsp of the mixture to each shell.

8.) Bake for 5 minutes then turn off the oven for 1 minute.

9.) Turn the oven back on again but at 160 degrees C and bake for 5 more minutes.

10.) Take out the tin, place on a cooling rack and let cool before attempting to lift out the tin.

Rajas tacos with Cactus salad

Rajas means strips of poblano chilli and these strips are mixed with some crème fraiche, garlic and creme fraiche. I served this with a cactus salad. Cactus tastes like a non-spicy jalapeno so really delicious with a bit of cheese. I got the recipe from ‘Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home’ by Thomasina Miers. I’d probably reduce the amount of crème fraiche in the recipe in the future but it was a really delicious, fresh meal. I had to get both the poblanos and the cactus from Mexgrocer which worked out cheaper than Amazon and they have all sorts of tequila if you’re into that.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 2 onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tin poblano peppers (780g)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 250ml crème fraiche (I think you could get away with 180ml)
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch oregano
  • 8 mini tortillas
  • 80g Wensleydale or Mexican queso
  • 6 vine tomatoes
  • 1 440g jar cactus
  • 1 small onion
  • 10g parsley
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 25g parmesan cheese
  • 1 lime

Method

1.) For the tacos, peel and dice the onions, heat some oil in a pan and cook on a low heat until very soft.

2.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic, then add to the pan with the allspice and oregano. Cook for a couple more minutes then season with salt and pepper. Move to a large bowl.

3.) Pour in the creme fraiche. Then drain and slice up the peppers, add and mix everything.

4.) For the salad, chop up the tomatoes and add to a salad bowl. Grate the parmesan and add that. Peel and finely dice the onion, parsley and coriander. Add to the salad. Drain the cactus, add in. Chop the lime in half and squeeze in the juice. Mix everything together.

5.) Crumble the wensleydale cheese. Assemble the tacos by adding some crème fraiche mixture to the taco, sprinkle over some crumbled cheese. Serve with the salad.