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.

Hearty Herby Stew

I enjoyed The Tinder Swindler documentary so much I even listened to the podcast ‘The Making of the Tindler Swindler’ on Spotify. It’s fascinating stuff. On the back of that I just want more of the con artists and I’m trying to watch the show about Anna Delvey but to be honest, I’m pretty lost and I’m not sure what Julia Garner’s accent is meant to be and if it’s good or not, I’m not sure who she’s conning and how and what her motivation is. This is the weather for staying in watching TV and also for eating a hearty stew. This recipe from the Bosh team in ‘Healthy Vegan’ is great, It packs a lot of flavour for a veggie stew. This meal is both light and filling at the same time.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 250g new potatoes
  • 1 tin green lentils
  • 1 tin cannellini beans
  • 200g kale
  • 15 parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 11/2 tbsp oil
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 500ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the shallots and garlic. Peel the carrots and chop up. Chop up the celery.

2.) Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the veggies. Cook for 5 minutes until soft.

3.) In the meantime, strip the leaves from the rosemary and the thyme. Chop them up finely.

4.) Chop up the potatoes into smaller chunks.

5.) Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.

6.) Add the thyme and rosemary and cook for one more minute.

7.) Make up the stock and add to the pan with the water, bay leaf and mustard and bring to a simmer.

8.) Add the potatoes and cook until they’re tender.

9.) Chop the lemon in half and remove the pips. Drain the lentils and beans and add to the stew. Add the juice of half of the lemon. Simmer for 4 minutes.

10.) Whilst this is simmering, chop up the parsley and sage. Add the herbs, the kale and the marmite and simmer for another couple of minutes.

11.) Season with salt and pepper. Dish into bowls.

11.) Add the kale, sage,

Urap Urap

I’d never heard of Urap Urap before seeing it in ‘Vegan for Good’. It’s an Indonesian dish of steamed vegetables with a salad dressing of desiccated coconut. Apparently Indonesian food is pretty big in Holland and the author of the book is Dutch. This recipe is Vegan and it’s great because it’s just naturally Vegan, there’s no substitutes for anything and it’s soooo tasty. The sambal is very very spicy so I would just drizzle a couple of teaspoons over at the end. Then it’s quite nice because you can recover been bites of chilli rather than it building up in every bite. Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, if you cook often then I think most of them should already be in your cupboards and even though there’s a few different elements, each one is quite easy to make. If you do want to save a bit of time, I recommend buying minced garlic and ginger.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 300g rice
  • 400g French beans
  • 300g Kale
  • 125g broccoli

Sambal

  • 100g fresh chillies (actually I just used 5 green ones, hence my sauce being the kind of light green colour you can see in the above picture)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3cm ginger
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar or juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp tamari sauce

Kecap sauce

  • 120ml tamari sauce
  • 120ml maple syrup
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour blended with 1 tbsp water

Coconut topping

  • 1 shallot
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce

Method

1.) Put the rice on to cook. I use a rice cooker.

2,) Make the sambal. Chop the stalks off the chillies. peel the garlic and the onion. Chop the onion into a few smaller chunks. Peel the ginger. Add all these to a blender with the tamari and vinegar and blitz to a sauce.

3.) Make the kecap sauce. Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger then add them into a small pan with the other kecap ingredients (except the cornflour. Bring to a gentle boil then turn down to a low heat and cook for 10 – 15 minutes. After this, add the cornflour and whisk in. Pour into another container and set aside.

4.) Now, make the coconut topping. Peel and finely dice the shallot and the garlic.

5.) Add the shallot, garlic and a teaspoon of the sambal to a frying pan. Add a splash of water and fry until cooked. Then add the coconut, turmeric and coriander. Cook until the coconut is lightly toasted and starting to be fragrant. Then quickly add the syrup and tamari, stir, put in a bowl and set aside.

6.) Finally, cook the vegetables as you choose. I just boiled them quickly rather than steaming them.

7.) The rice should be cooked by now, mix that with the kecap sauce.

8.) To serve, divide the rice between the plates, add the vegetables. Top with the coconut. Drizzle over a small amount of the sambal sauce.

Faux Gras

I only tried foie gras once before before becoming pescatarian and though I did enjoy the flavour being that it’s basically a richer form of chicken liver pâte there was always the guilt of the method of production. We tried the foie gras in a French restaurant in Washington DC after explaining to the server that we had reservations over the cruelty and the French owner thinking that we were joking and serving it to us anyway. In the UK, foie gras has actually been banned now so there was at least one good thing to come out of 2021. This is what led the Michelin starred chef Alex Gauthier who is actually vegan himself to create a vegan version of foie gras. Obviously it’s not the same as the real thing but it’s still delicious coupled with Sauternes wine and it really still feels luxurious despite being very simple to make. The original recipe has beetroot purée in it which gives it the similar pink tone of the real stuff. You may want to omit this if you want it to be less reminiscent of meat.

Serves a lot in fact maybe half this recipe if possible

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter (vegan or normal if like me, you’re not vegan)
  • 1 shallot
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 18 button mushrooms (I used 9 normal mushrooms)
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 200g lentils (makes about 400g cooked)
  • 150g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp beetroot purée (I used 3 mini cooked beetroots)

Method

1.) Put the lentils in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked. Drain and place in the food processor.

2.) Peel and finely chop the shallot. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the herbs and finely dice.

3.) Melt the butter in a pan and cook the mushrooms and shallots until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic.

5.) Add the garlic to the pan with the herbs and cook for one minute. Add the cognac and turn off the heat.

6.) Add the contents of the frying pan to the food processor.

7.) Toast the walnuts on a low heat until they’re starting to smell toasted.

8.) Add the walnuts to the food processor, along with the soy sauce and the beetroot. Blitz everything until a smooth paste is formed.

9.) Place into ramekins.

10.) Best served at room temperature with some crackers or bread and ideally some dessert wine.

Tofu Yaki Soba

Here’s another vegan recipe in honour of Cop 26. I had a vegetarian noodle dish just this weekend at the Fawlty Towers Dining experience. Their food wasn’t great but it wasn’t about the food. The actor playing Basil Fawlty was not impressed that I’d chosen the vegetarian option, though I was expecting a comment of the sort. Apologies for those who don’t know of Fawlty Towers but it’s an absolute classic in England the equivalent of Seinfeld. It’s hard to separate the nostalgia from the actuality of the show now but the experience was certainly very fun. It would be interesting to watch similar things belonging to other countries. This recipe here is a vegetable noodle dish too with a punchy Asian dressing and crumbled tofu. I have scaled up the original recipe to make a few more servings than the below.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 140g firm tofu
  • 5cm ginger
  • 1 small chilli
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 spring onions
  • 200g shitake mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 100g noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 100g beansprouts
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Unwrap the tofu and place on some kitchen roll on a plate. Top with more kitchen roll then put something on the top (e.g. a tin of spiced parsnip soup and a jar of capers) to weigh it down and squeeze out the water. Leave for 10 minutes.

2.) In the meantime, slice the spring onions into thin slices and wash the shitake mushrooms. Peel the carrots and use a peeler to peel them into ribbons. Peel the garlic and ginger and finely chop the garlic, grate the ginger. Finely chop the chilli, Slice up the red pepper.

3.) Put the noodles in a small pan, add boiling water, cook until soft.

4.) Dry fry the shitake mushrooms and spring onions in a wok until starting to soften. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.

5.) Add the sesame oil and maple syrup. Crumble up the tofu and add to the pan and let it brown for 2 or 3 minutes.

6.) Stir and add the red pepper, beansprouts, carrot and hoisin sauce and fry for a few minutes until the veggies are starting to soften.

7.) Add the drained noodles to the wok, stir to combine and heat everything up.

8.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chickpea Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is so called as it’s a salad from the city of Nice in France. I don’t believe that this really resembles at all a Niçoise. Ignoring the fact that there is no tuna or hardboiled eggs in it (unsurprising since the recipe is from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’), generally most versions seem to have green beans and new potatoes. Even so, this is a tasty recipe which has elevated the protein packed chickpea to a healthy vegan fish substitute. Maybe what you need if you’ve not managed to distribute all of your Halloween treats. Sadly I didn’t have much of a Halloween this year, it was spoilt by Avanti West Coast rail service who cancelled all trains from London to the North-West after my weekend break to the Big Smoke. The original Candyman will have to wait for another week as I’m determined to see if it’s still as terrifying as it was when I watched it for the first time, at the age of twelve. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself by reading ‘Necropolis: London & it’s Dead’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin (400g chickpeas)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small cornichons (or 4 capers)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig dill
  • handful parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g mixed tomatoes
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 150g podded broad beans (I used frozen edamame beans defrosted in the microwave)
  • 35g pitted Kalamata olives

Method

1.) Make the tuna substitute. Peel the shallot and carrot and roughly chop those and the celery and throw them in a food processor. Add the cornichons. Zest and juice the lemon and add that also. Add the dill and parsley. Blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2.) Add the hummus, drain the chickpeas and add those too. Pulse a few times so everything is combined but there is still some texture.

3.) To make the dressing, peel and grate the garlic and finely chop the basil, setting aside the leaves. In a container of some form, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the basil stems and garlic to infuse with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes and rip up the lettuce. Add to a big bowl with the olives and broad beans.

5.) Toss with the dressing to coat everything and divide between two plates.

6.) Add the chickpea mixture on top and serve.