Archive | October, 2013

A scoop of Diwali – pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

31 Oct
pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

It’s Diwali. Flickering, gentle lights and decorated candles, bright colours and brighter smiles. Plentiful food and swelling cheer and seeing cute little kids over excited about fireworks and men displaying firework related bravado. Excitable aunties make a big deal of cleaning and men semi-snooze away. There’s always way too much sugar on display.

Impractical heels and frozen toes, pretty sari’s but now trending to flowing indian dresses. Visiting home to home of various relatives and receiving hugs and sweets. Everyone talks in raised sing-song tones, there’s something special in the air. And what about all those Diwali functions…dinner and dances and the parties? Are you going to any of those?

What’s my favourite thing about Diwali? I love that people are, even for just a couple of days, in really good spirits and that they are nice to each other. They take the time and effort to give good wishes and say positive and warm things. I also love that I get to see family members whom I don’t see on a regular basis. I love standing in a bustling and cold street filled with Asian shops and restaurants and eating steaming hot samosa or chilli chips with my friends and family. I love impromptu meals out and huge frothy ice cream milkshakes.

Although the open door policy does have its downfalls. When I was a kid one of our neighbours had become mentally very unstable. On Diwali day, our front door was flung open as aunts and uncles came in and out. I walked into the living room to find her just sitting there. She told my mum, utterly calmly that be had come to stay the night and would like her to vacate her bedroom.

Diwali is a real feast of the senses. The iced cold weather and then warming up with spices and central heating. The colours the charm, the music…and that’s what I have tried to capture in my recipe today. The icy yoghurt has a lightly sour tang, because its yoghurt. It’s sweet with pineapple and sweetener. The chilli adds a perplexing heat and I’ve added a touch of cinnamon, so the fragrance is festively sweet. Give it a go, it’s an impressive Diwali treat.

Ingredients

One medium pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
5-6 tbsp caster sugar
3-4 tbsp agave nectar
One red chilli, finely diced or minced
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
700ml plain natural yoghurt
300ml whole milk
2 tsp lemon juice

Method

1. Put the pineapple, chilli and sugar with the cinnamon into a non stick pan and heat on a medium flame until its pulpy. Turn it off the heat and blitz it to a grainy texture in a food processor until its cool.
2. Whisk the yoghurt, lemon juice and milk until its smooth, then add the pineapple mixture. Turn it into an ice cream maker and churn it until it looks creamy and smooth. Either serve the frozen yoghurt immediately or freeze it for later
3. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the yoghurt mixture for a couple of hours, then whisk it to break up the crystals. Do this every 2-3 hours until its frozen.

I am entering this into Made With Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior

 

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Garlic and cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta (plus giveaway)

29 Oct
Garlic and Cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta

Garlic and Cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta

It’s funny how tastes change as grow up.

Back in the day, a weekend in Skegness with chips, rides, candy floss, sand castles and good company was the making of exhilarating times. The smell of fried onions, the smacking of the sea, the sun in our hair and on our backs. Wearing shorts, but skies, seagulls. When my husband and I were a relatively new couple we escaped the pressures of the festive season by going to Scotland. We we young. We stopped by Blackpool of all places and it was so windy, I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I remember mr.bean on a tiny TV with a long aerial in our modest lodging for the night. The simple things.

Then for my 30th we were in an island just off Mauritius that we could walk around within 20mins. The waters were so shallow and still, you could just walk from one end to another. Quiet and scorching, still and stunning. They weren’t wrong when they said, ‘welcome to paradise’. I wasn’t one to stop and stare, I like to keep busy. But on an island as movingly beautiful, it was just instinctive to stop and admire…for a long time. I had flutters in my tummy, it was thrilling. I was making the memories I had imagined for so long.

I remember watching one of my uncles grilling full cloves of garlic on top of toast on one of those old school cookers where the flames would dance on the grill. I remember being utterly repulsed; how DID he eat THAT. I listened to him telling my dad how he ate it every day and how raw garlic was good for the heart, blah blah. They drank karela juice and ate raw mung bean sprouts. What was wrong with my family…surely everyone else’s family ate pizza and certainly not raw garlic?

And now? I’ve tweeted excitedly about roasted garlic with salt and sighing with smiles at the same time. It’s incredibly smooth, sweet and creamy. I love roasting whole bulbs and then squeezing the individual cloves out of their skins. It’s art. It’s so pretty. Surely simple food like this had to be sensual, or is that just taking it too far?

As you may have noticed from my posts, I’m rather fond of pasta. Who doesn’t love it? One of my favourite things about pasta is the versatility; there are just so, so many varieties. This recipe is fresh, garlicky, smooth and easy. I want to know what you think of this recipe and I want to hear about your favourite variety f pasta.

Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this recipe and your fave recipe and be in with a chance of receiving one of these JML twist n choppers which has made my life in the kitchen tidier. closing date 17th November.

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Ingredients

One large head f cauliflower cut into 1 inch florets
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1/4 cup of oil
1tbsp chilli oil or sesame oil and one chilli
75g parsley
2tsp lemon juice
400g pasta

1. Mix the oil, cauliflower, salt and cumin seeds in a large bowl and ensure the cauliflower is well coated
2. Roast the cauliflower in the oven at 180degrees for about 20mins or until it is has browned lightly.
3. In the meantime, cook the packet instructions and make the pesto by grinding together the parsley, chilli oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add 1tbp water if you struggle to get a smooth pesto.
4. When the cauliflower and pasta are cooked, drain the pasta and mix wth the pasta. Toss the cauliflower into the bowl and ensure they are evenly distributed. Don’t stir it in, just toss it gently,

Serve hot and crisp.

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy

26 Oct

A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy
I asked a question over my Facebook group the other day about what sort of foods people liked to eat as children. The funny thing is that tastes haven’t changed for many people. Gourmet and Michelin food have their place but when we are hungry, what hits the spot? A pizza with pineapple? Chips with loads of vinegar? Samosa? Baked bean curry? Macaroni cheese? A big bowl of spaghetti. Yes…now we are talking! Food nostalgia is a beautiful thing.

I won’t lie. I have been called a food snob on more than one occasion. I can’t make a meal of beans on toast (I make my own ‘baked beans’ ) and I like roasted garlic and artichoke on my pizza. I don’t like to use generic curry powder and I do not, ever, cook chilli paneer. I can almost hear the shrieks of surprise. I eat it if I am a party, but I won’t actually order it or make it. Chilli paneer is a cliched and over rated dish that was popularised in the 90’s. It is essentially paneer that is stir-fried in peppers and onions, lots of garlic and then doused in soy sauce and ketchup.

I was at my boys playgroup the other day when one of the mums mentioned that she tried out one of my recipe. I love it when I hear that! Then she mentioned that she’s been looking for a good paneer recipe and asked if I would post one. I kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t mention the word chilli to prefix paneer. Anyway, so then as she and another mum talked about paneer and take-always their eyes lit up in excitement…so here we are.

There are some tastes and textures that will always make us smile. They anchor us to happy memories and smooth us, sweetly. Some foods are like a taste lullaby, they sing us into a natural rhythm and give us flavoursome satiety. Sweetcorn and paneer are two of these ingredients.
With Diwali coming up I have been reminiscing about the Diwali’s of my past. Festivities are so exciting in childhood and I really hope that I can instil the same memories and sense of fun with tradition for my baby. Fireworks, family, food, fantasy and fantastic clothes. Dark cold nights, watching mum dress up and sitting on dads shoulders to see the pretty lights and fireworks. Eating hot pakora in the street, jacket potatoes or of course, chips. Throwing bangers on the floor, aunties chattering. It’s Diwali.

My recipe is one that will definitely add the sunny colour and creamy flavour to enrich your Diwali. It is based on some of the shahi (royal) dishes I ate in Delhi during my last trip. I have used a creamy cashew nut paste and tangy tamarind; rich and special, just like Diwali. This is a full on show-off curry, so if you are entertaining definitely whip this one out. The colour a depth are impressive.

Ingredients

250g paneer, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup of sweetcorn kernels
1 cup of chopped tomatoes (I used tinned tomatoes)
One red onion, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
2 large cloves of garlic , minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 cup cashew nuts
1 cup milk
2 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
2 cups of warm water

Method

1. Soak the cashew nuts in the milk for 15minutes or until you are ready to use them. Grind them to a smooth paste just before you add them to the curry.
2. Take a non-stick pan and add 1tbsp of oil and stir fry the paneer until it is golden brown. Remove it and place onto kitchen paper, allowing it to cool.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, chilies cinnamon, cloves and turmeric.
4. Allow the seeds to sizzle before you add the onion and the salt. Soften the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the ginger and garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes, tamarind, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and simmer for 4-5 minutes on a medium flame before adding the cashew nut paste and the water. Bring the gravy to a simmer before adding the paneer and sweetcorn.
6. Cook for 8-10minutes before serving hot with buttery chappati.

Diwali and Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamom and cinnamon shell

25 Oct

Diwali and Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamon and cinnamon shell

Things are different now, compared to how they were back in the day. I remember watching TV with a bag of sherbet in my hand ( a rare treat) whilst my dad nipped off to work and and just an hour or so before mum arrived home from her job. I must have been about ten. Nowadays that just wouldn’t happen would it. I mean, many people I know don’t even allow their kids to walk home from school. I think dad even left my brother sleeping in his cot when picking me up from nursery down the road. I would freak at the thought of doing this now my toddler, I even take him into the bathroom when I am showering. Things have changed.

We didn’t eat a lot of sugar or fried food as kids. My dad is diabetic and he used to be a diligent one. He refused even a fleck of mithai (traditional Indian sweets made most often from milk powders and lots of sugar, often nuts) at Diwali or auspicious occasions. He would rarely eat a samosa and we never had pudding after dinner. I mean, we weren’t deprived…we ate ice cream and chocolate and cake…it just wasn’t part of our regular diets.

At Diwali we chose nuts over the mithai, naturally.

So it turned out that for years I would prefer crisps over sweets and never drank fizzy drinks. I would eat an extra chappati with a green vegetable curry and okra was my favourite, but I wouldn’t eat rasmalai (paneer based dessert). I craved pasta not cake and definitely pizza over cake. Then I had baby.

It has been the most bizarre experience. Pretty much weeks after having my boy, I started craving biscuits and I ate loads of them. Arguably this could have been simply hunger and pumping loads of calories into my bit via breast milk, but I’d not really craved biscuits before. I was part of an NCT group where us new mums would meet weekly and guess what we ate? Cakes, biscuits, wafers, muffins…

I started craving lemon drizzle cake every day. I would wake up thinking about apple and blackberry crumble. But then my hair fell in clumps as part of normal post partum hair loss and I think my my hormones were a mess. Spikes in insulin and are related to hormone levels and eating all that cake was not doing me any favours, especially as I had a family history of diabetes. The sugar honeymoon was off!

Jaggery however is unrefined sugar and you can get it in blocks from asian supermarkets.I do struggle sometimes to keep my iron levels up and jaggery is a source of iron too. I was fed it with nuts after I had my baby to help me recover. I did find mums traditional recipe tasty, but I was bored as heck so I created this recipe.

I’ve eaten so much of these crisp, smooth and flavoursome little bites today and it has really been hard to stop! I’m so excited about showing these off during Diwali and Christmas. The cardamon and cinnamon are definitely present and warm the dish up and add so much depth and flavour.

I love these crunchy bites, I feel better that I’m not eating a lump of fat but they taste so ridiculously good. Make some, eat them, gift them.

Ingredients

150g pecan nuts
225g jaggery
2 tbsp water
1/4 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon

Method

1. Toast the nuts on a non stick pan for a 4 minutes or until they catch a light colour and are crisp. Leave them to cool.
2. On a low flame melt the jaggery. Add the water if its stiff.
3. Once the jaggery achieves a caramel type of consistency, add the cardamon and cinnamon and mix well
4. Turn the flame to a very low flicker and mix in the pecans and pull them out with tongs individually and lay them on baking paper to cool. Please do not use your fingers, hot jaggery burns.image

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

25 Oct

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Always follow your gut instinct.

This week has been a revealing and pretty testing one. When I was made redundant just before I fell pregnant, it was pretty messily and insensitively handled and frankly, the writing had been on the wall for a while, just that I didn’t read the signals. It shook my confidence so then determinedly, I secured a role that on paper was more exciting, more strategic, more pay and well, just more. For some reason however, it just didn’t feel right. I held off from accepting the offer for two whole weeks and as I drove to work on my first day as a newly pregnant and formally dressed person, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even feel neutral. I knew the difference between nervous apprehension and plain dread.

It turned out that my gut instinct was right. It was a mistake, but I was brave enough to put a stop to that interlude. However it was another factor that I let augment my self perception.

This week I spoke to so many people with emotive challenges I’m life. For some reason my shoulder is pretty attractive to secretly woeful people who carry themselves with a smile. I listened to a friend who has anxiety attacks at work, I’ve wiped the tears from friends who miss their children because they are busy being hamsters at work. I’ve held the hands of friends contemplating fertility treatments and encouraged my neighbour back into education as she has now raised her children. I also said no to a corporate role that would have sucked the life out of my life. I listened to my gut instinct. Nobody should actively or passively do things in life that they know will make them sad.

A the same time my husband has been away for work this week. I’ve had friends and family over this week back-to-back and I feel loved and blessed. How to thank them? There’s less money in my household now so I’m not taking each of them for dinner, but what I can do is put some quality and love into a thoughtful gift.

Christmas and Diwali are around the corner, why don’t you try these either for yourself or as gifts for loved ones. It’s so lovely to receive a gorgeous catch of something tasty that doesn’t perish in a day or two. My lychee and chilli dipping sauce is versatile and smells amazing. So far I’ve used it with chips and spring rolls and can’t with each mouthful I’ve thought, ‘I can’t believe I made this’ .

This dipping sauce carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky. Go on, if you like it hot and sweet…

Ingredients

Two tins of lychees
5 tbsp of caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
8-10 red finger chillies

Method

1. Mince the chillies to a paste and keep them to a side.
2. Put the lychees int a food processor and blend them together to as smooth a consistency as possible, although it may be quite chunky don’t worry,
3. Pour the lychees into a non-stick pan together with the chilies and the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat to a medium flame and simmer for 15-20minutes until the juices have thickened.
4. Return the sauce to a food processor and blitz it until the lychee chunks have smoothed into the sauce.
5. Place the sauce back onto the hob and simmer for a further 5minutes until the sauce is thick and sticky.

Allow the sauce to cool before serving. If you aren’t serving it straight away then store it in an air tight, sterilised jar.

I am entering this made from scratch Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.
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Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

23 Oct

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When we go to our favourite Chinese restaurant the first (of many) things we over eat on is vegetarian crackers with loads of chilli oil. Our tummies flare away after a few mouthfuls as do our tongues, but we keep going. We always joke that our Indian heritage is revealing itself here; not everyone hoovers up chilli in this way, surely?

My love for chilies isn’t just based on the heat. The flavour of chilies is something else. Sometimes sweet, sometimes smokey, sometimes tangy. I love the way they get into the nose and cheeks as soon as a they’re bitten.

I’m sure every Asian person has an aunt that carries chilli sauce in their handbag, I know I have a couple at least! In my last corporate role the IT department was filled with people from Calcutta and Bangalore. They and I would queue for the microwaves in the canteen and they would heat up their stacks of Chappati, curry and rice separately whilst I would be tapping my single tub of daal and rice with forced patience and a smile masking my hunger and nervousness about making that meeting.

Anyway, those of the IT people that didn’t bring a packed lunch feast would buy something like chips and guess what they would pull out?

It’s engrained. On pizza, on cheese on toast, on chips, on jacket potatoes…chilli. So I thought, why not? Why don’t I make a chilli oil with an Indian accent, like my ex colleagues from Bangalore and my auntie and my mummy.

Do you know how easy it is to make chilli oil? I wasn’t even sure it warranted a recipe or a post on my site until I spoke to a few of my friends and they said they loved the stuff and asked me about the best place to buy it. So here we are.

These pretty little jars make excellent Christmas gifts that are handmade and special. My husband is away this week on business and I’ve been handing these little jars out to my friends and family who have come to keep me company and they’ve gone down beautifully.

I have used sesame oil and olive oil in my recipe because sesame oil makes the whole mix gorgeously nutty. I’ve used lots of whole spices that are used in garam masala and they all add aroma and gentle heat with some sweetness. Cinnamon and star anise smell sweet and floral respectively. All you need to do is heat it up to aid the infusion, but don’t burn the chilies by boiling the oil. Just be gentle. Remember that the infusion gets stronger over weeks. I would shake the oil once a week and keep it in a cool and dry place. Let me know what you think of this one!

Ingredients

225ml sesame oil
225ml olive oil
20g dried flaked chilies
5-7 whole dried chilies
3 medium sized sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 star anise
5-6 cloves

Method

1. Sterilise the jars and dry them thoroughly.
2. Pour the oil into a deep bottomed non-stick pan and add the chilies and whole spices.
3. Heat the oil until you see gentle bubbles and turn down the heat. Don’t boil the oil or burn the chilies.IMG_3925
4. Keep the oil on the flame for 4-5 minutes to add the infusion, but on a low flame.
5. Let the chili oil cool and then pour the oil into the jars, try to distribute the while spices evenly.

Store the jars in a cook dry place and shake them once a week.

Canapés ? Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

21 Oct
Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

I’m chuckling at how my parents and their peers see people who are a little bit chubby, or fuller figured and consider them healthy and happy. Being slightly rotund is a mark of a good life, apparently. Whenever I experience fitness class success, my mum looks at me worriedly, telling me that I need to put on weight because I need ‘energy’. Ok mum.

This is the season where I become festively fatter. Diwali involves a lot of gorging on a ridiculous amount of sugary and deep-fried treats. As we visit family members at each of their homes to offer them seasons greetings, we are offered sweets and crispy treats and that’s what we fill up on. Deep fried rice flour Catherine wheels , deep-fried dumplings filled with a sweet and nutty mixture, deep-fried brown bean popadums…

Then comes Christmas and I always seem to eat the most massive number of roast potatoes; I really love them. Pastry and cheeses are consumed in generous portions in our house and oh, the sugar. I’ve already started stocking up on the drinks which I always see as hidden calories. Nibbles; they’re dangerous too…I rarely remember how many of those mini chocolates I’ve eaten, let alone crisps and cheesy things.

So this season, I am publicly declaring my intent (yes, intent) to be more kind to my body. Now, I am not saying that I’m going t have a skinny Diwali and Christmas. What’s the point of that, they only come around once a year. What I am saying that I’m going to include some healthier stuff! I’m going to include canapés that are not deep-fried and they will taste good! Do you want to join me?

These pretty looking rolls, light, colourful and unusual. The courgette is raw, which allows that crispy gorgeousness. A bit of saffron does the job of giving colour, aroma and decadence. The filling is crumbly, lightly cheeses a wee bit spicy. You can make them fresh, or keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours, ready for guests to arrive. These are certainly different, give them a go!

Ingredients for 15-20 rolls

200g cauliflower florets
125g broad beans, thawed
One large red chilli, finely chopped
30g grated mature cheddar
4 pinches of saffron infused in 1 tbsp of warm water
3/4 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 medium-sized courgette or one very large one

Method

1. Boil the cauliflower and broad beans for 5-6minutes, then drain and empty into a food processor
2. Add the cumin seeds, chilli, salt, saffron, coriander powder and cheese
3. Blitz the mixture until it is grainy
4. Take a peeler and make wide peelings on the courgette, one peel at each side of the courgette until it wears too thin
5. Line the courgette peel with two tbsp of the stuffing and then roll it up.

Serve either immediately or keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours in advance of your guests arriving.

I am entering this made from scratch Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.

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Faster And Vaster Pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

19 Oct

The other day my lovely friend and her gorgeous boy came over for a play date. As soon as the biscuits and fruits came out my friends happy and eager toddler was at them and when he had finished his, he wanted mine and everyone else’s and he whimpered in protest when we denied his prizing goodies from our mouths. Meanwhile, when my boy was offered fruits, chocolate biscuits, rice cakes…guess what his answer was? ‘

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

Faster and vaster pasta! Broccoli, walnut, sundried tomato and basil pesto pasta

No mumma’.

I do concern myself about how to get some sort of varied and balanced diet into my boy when he is so reluctant, if not refuting active participation. I wish I could just give him raw carrots and raisins for him to tuck into, particularly as we know that raw foods are more nutrition packed than cooked foods. Some of the principles I’m learning are important;

1. Variety, keep them interested by offering small portions of a few food groups at meal times

2. Eat the same foods as the little ones, they often want to join in

3. Keep it tasty, why would they want to eat bland and boring food?

4. New recipes, new stimulations. It may seem easy to stick to their favourite recipes, but new foods arouse new interest and it’s just easier to hook them in!

5. Be happy and relax. Participation is more likely to happen if everyone is having fun.

Now, I’m all for having one meal for everyone; less time in the kitchen and less cleaning-hooray! But I’m not eating teeny broccoli and cheese pasta. This very grown up and somewhat classy recipe is a gorgeous blend of fresh flavours. Each ingredient speaks volumes and is very detectable without being difficult or slow to munch. It’s a grainy pesto that is nutty, herby and slightly tangy-sweet. It’s moist and moorish. It’s a filling dish with a variety of nutrients and has a pretty colour of green nuts. We all enjoyed this recipe at lunch time today, I wish I had made some extra pesto and frozen it. Next time….

Ingredients

200g broccoli cut into medium-sized florets
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of oily sundried tomatoes
2/3 cup of walnuts
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cup of chopped basil
3tbsp of the sundried tomato oil (from the jar)
3tbsp water
Some feta or cheese of your choice to crumble on top
500g pasta

Method

1. Toast the nuts on a non stick pan until they catch a lightly browned colour, then let them cool
2. Boil the broccoli for about  3 minutes and then drain the water
3. Put the broccoli, basil, nuts, lemon juice, salt and sundried tomatoes into a food processor and blitz it together.
4. When the mixture is coarse, mix drizzle in the oil and water whilst the processor is still churning the pesto.image
5. Boil the pasta per the packet instructions and drain. When the pesto is ready, mix it well with the pasta and serve with a little crumbled feta (or cheese of your choice).

If you like novel  and scrummy pasta recipes, why not check these out 

Coriander, ginger and basil pesto pasta with toasted cashews and peanuts

Indian spiced pea puree pasta

Cooking with Herbs

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Mung bean sprouts and paneer curry

18 Oct
Mung bean sprouts and paneer curry

Mung bean sprouts and paneer curry

We recently met a health conscious family where the elderly matriarch walked for miles each day, the parents played sports daily and even the kids were athletic both in lifestyle and body structure. There was no ghee, jaggery or samosa in sight within their Gujarati kitchen.

They told us that they started each day with steamed sprouts, karela or vegetable juices and seeds. Now, I am not stereotyping, but….it’s not often I see people of Indian ethnicity omitting gulab jamuns, rasmalai or jalebbi sweets. And what about the pakora, puri’s and cassava chips? What about paneer pizza and chilli cheese chips?

The thing that I find most impressive with the mentioned family is the constant awareness is that we are not immortal. We get damaged if we neglect ourselves. Hair falls, eyes weaken , teeth chip, break fall or rot and ears deafen. Skin shrivels and organs deteriorate. I know it sounds miserable, but life is quite fragile.

14 weeks after having had my baby I was having a brief period of relaxation during the weekend, soaking in a hot bath tub whilst the baby was sleeping and husband was tidying. I wash washing my hair to the tunes of 1970’s Bollywood music and experiencing a bit of escapism. Then I slid my hand through my hair and a found lumps of hair on my hand. It just kept coming away. I called for my husband with blurry eyed confusion and heart racing, I thought I had some sort of illness, my poor baby.

Husband frantically googled away. It turns out (after a visit to the docs) it was postpartum hair loss and I was anaemic. I had no warning or preparation about this post-baby hair loss stuff, but it seems that it just happens. The reason is that hair is dormant in pregnancy and doesn’t go through the natural growth and shedding cycle, so a few months after pregnancy it sheds.

Anyway, I focused quite heavily on eating foods that were rich in iron and had growth properties (protein). I ate dried apricots, kale, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, soy beans, kidney beans and tofu…amongst other stuff. I, like the healthy family, ate mung bean sprouts which are a good source of protein and vitamin B6, but particularly good for vitamin K and C, as well as good source of fibre and folate. For a while I stayed diligent and I think it helped. Nature is forgiving and the body does recover.

I’m not so diligent now, I kind of swing back into eating whatever I fancy and whatever tastes good, but I chipped a tooth today so I think for the next few weeks I want to look after myself. I’m using paneer because it tastes great and gives the dish a contrasting texture to the crunchy and filling mung bean shoots and we all need some fat don’t we. It’s a source of protein too.

Nutritious food tasting brilliant, that sounds like a good deal to me. This curry is dense, has a bite, is a lovely and juicy. The contrasting textures play well with the sense and you know that I enjoy that. I bought the mung bean shoots during a visit to the indian grocers, in fact my toddler picked them out. You can make them at home by soaking them in water overnight until they swell and then draining the water and leaving them covered, in sunlight until the they shoot. It normally takes a day in the summer, but seeing as we don’t have much day light now, I just bought them. Easy, I like easy…do you?

Ingredients

400g mung bean sprouts
200g paneer
One red onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red chilli, finely diced
3/4 cup chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1/2 cup water

The spices; 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 3/4 tsp garam masala, salt to taste (go easy, soy sauce is salty), 1/4 tsp, brown mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method

1. Grate the paneer and leave it to a side for a couple of minutes
2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they sizzle add the onion and sauté with the salt and turmeric for a couple of minutes. Introduce the garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes
3. Stir in the paneer and add the cumin powder, coriander powder and black pepper.
4. Mix the spices and the paneer together and then mix in the mung bean sprouts. Add the lemon juice, garam masala, soy sauce and tomatoes. Mix again before adding the water and cook on a low to medium flame for about 12 minutes.

Serve with hot chappatis and yoghurt. Don’t forget the salad!

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