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Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

7 Aug

Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

They say you become like the people you surround yourself with.

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)  by Deena Kakaya

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli) by Deena Kakaya

So, if you are around people who are athletic you will be more likely to use your gym membership or actually put on that swimming costume. If you spend time with folks who eat really healthy foods, you will consequently take inspiration and be eating gloriously green, blueberry chia and super food fuelled meals and if you find yourself with positive and happy people who tend to see the brighter side of life, you will inevitably think of challenges as stepping stones. If you immerse yourself in environments of intellectual dialogue, perhaps on politics or economics between ambitious and focused people, you will cultivate and progress your own mind and if your friends like money, cars and big houses…you may just find a way to achieve those same things.

If your mates are academic you will probably finish that post graduate qualification you’ve been thinking about for ages and if your pals wear cutting-edge make-up even to the supermarket or on a run, you will think twice before postponing that hair dressers appointment to cover up those grey hairs. If the banter around the dinner table on your Friday night get-together is about getting that next promotion or making partner, your energies too will flow that way. If you friends have found peace, love, God, family, children, simplicity…you may just find some time to do the same.

Intuitive isn’t it. I mean naturally. It’s one of the reasons parents worry about the company their children keep because we know that we can drive all our efforts to instil good values but the association that our children forge with groups of their choice will often have a very powerful influence on their own attitude and outlook. Why then have I not become more like my mother?

We stood at the Pani Puri stall in Wembley the other day and whilst I stood a little bit removed on the side, my mum plunged into the crowd and cheekily ordered a plate of dahi puri chaat and we could also that the anticipation was positively tickling her. I remarked to my dad that my mother hasn’t lost her inner child and he told me that it’s the way to hold onto the beauty of life.

Iridescent eyes and quivering excitement greeted us and of course a hand wafting around a plate bursting with cool, crisp, sour, sweet, tangy little filled puri. There is no pleasure like eating them with loved ones, outdoors, before they fall apart but nobody knows how to live a moment like my mother. Nobody would guess anything else about her.

As I had a little moan about the kitchen, the mess, the heavy earrings and stifling outfit, my hunger and of course the worries of nursery and work and oh! Life. My mother just chuckled and went upstairs in the cool of the late afternoon. She didn’t return for ages but I heard a loud snore as I went up the stairs thirty minutes later. When I told my dad, he said, ‘look, this is how peaceful people live life’.

Here’s to my mother. She wanted a falooda after her paratha, curry, Pani Puri and dahi puri on the street but couldn’t fit it in. Falooda are thick milkshakes perfumed with rose syrup, pumped with swelling chia seeds, and silky vermicelli and there is usually some sort of fruit and soaking in there too and perhaps even jelly but there is always ice cream floating on the top and it conveniently holds the umbrella. You get the picture. It is a treat for all but has that youthful, fun element to it-just like my mum. If she were a drink, I reckon she would be a falooda.

I would not be me if I did stretch the recipe a little…Rose milkshake was the remedy and bribe for many a parental challenge during my childhood. Don’t want to drink milk? OK have some rose milkshake. Don’t want to sit and watch that Bollywood movie? OK have some rose milkshake? Too much arguing with the cousins…yep. Rose Milkshake. It looks pretty and that aroma…mmm…You’ll find rose syrup in the ethnic aisle of large supermarkets like Tesco or in an Asian Store.

I have made an ice cream of it all. Ta-DA! The bright pink vermicelli? I soaked that in beetroot juice. I even have chocolate vermicelli in this version but the thing is, it’s an ice cream.

Ingredients

300ml whole milk

300ml double cream

7 tbsp. rose syrup

1 ½ tbsp. chia seeds

3 tbsp. finely broken vermicelli

25g cooked beetroot

One pink apple, cut into small cubes

4 tbsp. sugar

4 egg yolks

1 tsp. corn flour

Method

  1. If you are using an ice cream maker, ensure that your equipment is ready.
  2. Mix the milk, cream, Rose syrup and chia seeds together and chill them in the fridge for 3 hours.
  3. In the meantime puree the beetroot and soak the vermicelli in 50ml water.
  4. Once the milk has been chilled for the three hours, to allow the chia seeds to swell, make the custard. Combine the three egg yolks, sugar and corn flour in a large bowl and whip them until the sugar is no longer grainy and becomes a pale yellow colour and creamy in texture.
  5. Heat the milk and cream until it almost boils but do not let it boil.
  6. Add the milk and cream into the large bowl a little at a time, to avoid the eggs getting too hot and scrambling. Combine well and then turn it back into the saucepan that you heated the milk and cream in.
  7. Heat the custard on a very low flame and stir continuously. Do this until the back of the spatula can be covered and when you draw a line through the layer on the spatula, the line holds.
  8. Turn off the heat and mix in the vermicelli and apple and then allow the custard to cool to room temperature before leaving it in the fridge overnight. Now add the chocolate vermicelli if you are using it.
  9. Churn the custard in an ice cream maker or leave it in the freezer until it has set.

Christmas leftovers of roast potatoes? Meet bubble and squeak’s sexy, Indian-spiced cousin.

26 Dec

Left over roast spuds? Meet bubble and squeak's sexy, Indian-spiced cousin.

Left over roast spuds? Meet bubble and squeak's sexy, Indian-spiced cousin.I love Christmas. I do wonder why people reserve the Christmas feeling for Christmas just for Christmas though. Arguably, there should be a special feel to the day.

I love that during Christmas, people are nice to each other. Even strangers smile and greet each other. Friends and relatives call each other and better still, see each other. Phones are put away, iPads go down and we play with children and talk to people instead. We eat well, laugh and watch movies that emphasise the true meaning of life; love, family, being well. Everyone seems happier in the run-up to Christmas; more excited. It’s fun to decorate with tinsel and planning trips to see Santa. It’s just lovely to sip hot drinks in the cold weather at a Christmas market. Board games, silly jumpers, cuddles and gifts. Why can’t it be like this every day?

I don’t really make New Year resolutions. I’m not suggesting that they aren’t a good idea, I just don’t. What I do try and resolve to, almost daily, is to hang onto ‘that’ feeling. The feeling of being good, feeling good and giving good..and I’m not just talking about the food.

This year I used marabel spuds for my Xmas table and they were mighty fine spuds! They are naturally a bit sweet and very fluffy. I roasted them with salt and smoked garlic and a few glugs of rapeseed oil. The only trouble is, I did way too many. I tend to have leftovers after Xmas but can’t cope with a repeat episode of the Xmas meal itself, so here’s a recipe for a fabulous facelift for the leftovers.

My recipe is a quick, aromatic and light mix of pasta, roast potatoes, savoy cabbage (you could use brussels sprouts ) and tomatoes. When you add indian spices to your veg, automatically, it becomes a tarted up version. I’ve used coconut oil to temper the cabbage and very light and mild spicing. I’ve used juicy plum tomatoes to freshen the dish up too. Try it, it feels light and fragrant…a welcome change after heavy and indulgent eating.

Ingredients

1/2 head of Savoy cabbage, shredded into ribbons
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
Juice of half lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
The equivalent of 3 medium potatoes worth of potatoes
2 handfuls of plum tomatoes, halved
250g pasta
4-5 curry leaves

Method
1. Boil the pasta per packet instructions and heat the oven to heat and crisp the potatoes up again.
2. In a deep pan heat the coconut oil and then add the turmeric, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds sizzle and pop add the the cabbage and stir fry with salt, lemon juice and chilli powder for 7-8minutes on a medium flame, or until the cabbage is cooked enough to bite through easily.
3. When the pasta is cooked, wash and drain it. Mix it with the cabbage and potatoes before introducing the chopped tomatoes. And tossing it all together.

Serve the dish immediately, whilst still hot.

My pasta Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

23 Dec
Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

Often my mind races through evaluation and check list mode; what of that email I was supposed to send…the music isn’t right is it, did I buy kitchen foil? Why did that person say/do that, am I looking too much into it? Do I need to make a doctors appointment, what was that recipe submission date? Will I get that contract and when will I get a chance to paint my nails? What shall I make for dinner and what should I charge as daily rate?

But then a little head lands in my lap, ‘happy birthday mumma’. It’s not my birthday, but I know he means that he loves me. I run my hand through his hair, cup his face and tell him that I love him. ‘Thank you mumma, you’re welcome, I love you’.

As we race matchstick cars down the track and talk about dinosaurs, planets and animals I reflect on how blessed I am and that with each day that passes, it is one less from his childhood. That’s why it’s so important to be ‘here and now’. In the present, in the moment and cherishing it all. Of course there are practicalities like working, bathing, eating, cooking etc, but you know what I mean. This is also why, at Christmas time when we have family and friends visiting us over a couple of weeks and I do much of the cooking, I don’t want to make elaborate, fiddly dishes that take hours to cooks and ages to clean up after. I want something that shows effort, looks like a feast and above, is utterly delicious.

We’ve all had those excruciating moments during entertaining loved ones, were the as the host we end up in the kitchen tossing, baking, simmering and assembling. We hear laughter and cheer in the living or dining room and wish we could be part of it. Why not prepare a dish you can stick some cling film ver and pop in the oven whilst you sit down and smile with the group, clutching a cup of something hot and sweet?

Cue my pasta rotolo; how does it look? Good eh? Let me tell you…it tastes like a spicy, tangy, slippery, crispy, cheesy and smooth gorgeous little nest. Just look at it, it’s quite impressive isn’t it? And guess what, it’s so easy to do! Here’s how.

Ingredients

2 medium aubergines
350g frozen spinach
150g feta cheese
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
Salt to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4-5shallots
5 tbsp oil for cooking
1 tsp cumin seeds
1.5. tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A generous pinch of pepper
3 fresh lasagne sheets
Vegetarian hard cheese or mature cheddar for sprinkling on top

Method
1. Wash the aubergines, coat them in oil and roast them in the oven at 180degrees for 30mins or until they are soft on the inside and shrivelled on the outside. Let them cool and scoop out the insides. Mash them lightly on a plate until they are pulpy.image
2. To make the aubergine masala, heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle add the onions and some salt. I added 3/4 tsp. cook the onions until they are golden before adding half the minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are lightly browned before adding the cumin powder, turmeric, 3/4 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp paprika. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add the aubergine masala and mix throughly. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.image
2. To make the tomato sauce, heat 2 tbsp oil and then add the remaining garlic, paprika, chilli and salt (I added 1 tsp) and then sauté for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and bring it to simmer. Add a pinch of sugar if your tomatoes are sour.
3. To make the spices spinach, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, fennel and allow the mustard to pop. Add the spinach, salt, pepper and 3/4 tsp of garam masala. Cook for4-5 minutes, check that there are no frozen bits and turn it off the heat. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes on a medium flame.image
4. Heat the oven at 180 degrees and then start on the rotolo. Take one lasagne sheet and spread it with one third of the aubergine masala. then spread the spinach on top (a third) and crumble on some feta. Roll it up, then cut it in half, then half again.image
5. In a deep dish, spread the tomato sauce. Then, gentle place the rotolo pieces inside the sauce before sprinkling the cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30mins or until golden brown.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

21 Dec

Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you all smiles, peace and a heart full of love. I wish you all days where you wake up, looking forward to the day and I wish you nights where you will fall asleep smiling. I wish you all good, light and kind thoughts, you know the sort that shape your day to be just happy. I wish you joy without conditions and good health of the mind and body.

For the last three years, each New Year’s Eve, my husband and I watch the fireworks at midnight and he tells me, ‘this year will be your year’. This year I reminded him asked him if he will say this to me again, for the fourth time. Will he convince me about how this year really will be the one. Have I not had my year because I didn’t make it happen, or have they been mine but I’ve been too ungrateful to count my blessings.  This year, I hope I can release that pressure and just see how blessed I am. My loved ones are all alive and in reasonable shape. I have a beautiful, kind and smart boy now, a home and it’s all going to be…

Lets eat to that shall we? Here is a summary of foods that are special enough for Christmas.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

Personalised Gifts

If you have left it too late to buy Christmas gifts or want I give something with a personal touch, why not try my Home made chilli oil with an Indian accent? It’s made with sesame oil to give a deeper, nuttier taste and smooth texture. It’s a hot oil with the aromas of cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves star anise. It’s definitely a special one.

Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

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If you prefer a sweeter texture, try my Hot Chilli and sweet lychee dipping sauce? It’s perfumed and sweet with a hot kick at the end. I use I with spring rolls, in sandwiches and even with chips.

 

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Picky Pleasures

In our house we graze the day long..mouthfuls of crunchy or sweet nibbled are thrown into gobs whilst watching cheesy movies or playing board games together. I love these jaggery and spice crusted nuts so much. They ate smooth and crisp as well as sweet and aromatic with the cardamom.

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

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

If you fancy something with a bit of a kick, try out my plantain chips with cranberries and nuts. Not only does it look pretty and festive, it’s quite moorish!

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon
Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Sides, starters and party pieces

One of my favourites of this season has to be my smoked garlic, fennel, coconut, cumin and panko coated mushrooms. They taste crisp, exotic and nutty with a juicy and oozy mushroom inside. They’re magic.

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko
Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

Everyone loves a good fritter. For me they are the ultimate picky food. Whether they evoke memories of eating paneer pakora in the monsoon rain during holidays to India, or falafels being fried in huge quantities by friendly chefs who rolled them off their hands like balls of cotton wool. Whether they are eaten whilst sat under warm showers with smiles from beloved family, or nibbled whilst perched on a stool in a busy restaurant in Cairo. There is nothing like biting into a steaming hot and crispy shell to show bright green and moist beans tumble into the mouth.

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

How about my Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora? These pakora have some of that ‘seaweed’ essence and are a bit bitter-sweet in a glorious way because of the banana and onion. These gorgeous and fluffy bites make great party snacks and are best devoured when crispy and hot. I’d suggest serving them with any of these chutneys.

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Brussels sprouts, the quintessential Christmas veg. How do mine look? pretty? tempting? These Brussels sprouts are treated tenderly, as they deserve to be but they aren’t your soggy or overcooked sprout. It’s a lively, lightly spiced and full of flavour, juicy sprout.

 

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts
Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

For something lighter, healthier and simple why not try my Christmas coloured nibbles of balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes with soybean and red onion dip. It’s red and green…Christmassy…get it? Alright, alright I know. It’s not exactly the whackiest idea for colours but it does look festive and it is fun. The tomatoes take on an intensely deep and sweet flavour when roasted and the garlic really comes through with a kick of chilli at the end. The dip left my husband in sigh’s of ‘mmm’s and he’s polished off the entire bowl of dip! I have to say that this nutty dip is really very good. The handy thing with this recipe is that it’s great warm or cold. I served with warm pitta and some smoked cheese.

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip
Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at how popular my recipe for Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter has been! I’m really excited by this one. It’s really quite special. When they are warm, the goats cheese is oozy and juicy and the case is fluffy, flecked with green spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes…does it get any better?

 

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter
Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Chutney makes it taste even better

If you find those veg a bit plain, here are a couple of chutneys to lift them to gorgeousness. My Kerala inspired tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney has spruced up my sarnies lately and I’ve even had this chutney with roasted veg…just to test it out!

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney
Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

 

From halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

I was also inspired by fond memories of halwa to make a butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney that is divine with bread and cheese, do try it.

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

 

The main event

It isn’t another nut roast, relax! I have nothing against a good, sumptuous and nutritious nut roast, but we can do better than that! How about my open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto. For me, this sums up a vegetarian Christmas in three, simple layers.

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

Vegetarian Christmas recipe - open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto
Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

If you fancy a curry for the big day with a festive feel, try my Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes. This curry is one of those that warms the tummy and keeps it flickering and teases the taste buds. It’s a glowing bowl of aroma and an utterly balanced dish for the senses. It looks mor complicated than it is…once you’ve made the curry paste, it’s very, very straightforward. What you get is a heat, sweetness and zing. You get the perfumes from star anise, kaffir lime leaves and some wonderful lemongrass. The great thing is that the potatoes, Brussel sprouts and tofu soak up all these juices. The other good thing about a curry for Christmas is that you can make it before your guests arrive and then relax and spend some quality time with them.

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Sweet Stuff

I give the traditional apple crumble recipe an exotic and spiced twist. The juices burst through the top of the crumble and are a mix of the fruits and spices; it’s so good that I could drink it. It’s really good, try it.

Apple, Lychee and blackberry (coconut)crumble with rose, cinnamon, cardamon and star anise

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

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.

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

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

Now let’s have a drink

When the party is over, I get thirsty as heck. I want something soothing, fragrant , sweet and cold. I want the gola man from India to come and make me one whilst I have a foot massage (not from the gola man, let’s not get any ideas). I need a good soak in the bath with flowery fragrances. I fancied enacting one of those scenes from period films where the queen bathes in a pool of rose petals and warm water, with people passing her towels and drinks. Alas, I’m no queen but this cool, fruity, floral and fragrant cooler is a spa for the mind.

Dance, sing and drink a rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Om shanti Om- pineapple, rose, ginger and cinnamon lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

 

 

 

 

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

16 Dec

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Brussels sprouts, the quintessential Christmas veg. How do mine look? pretty? tempting?

I remember talking on a radio station about sprouts and we touched on the subject of the smell; some say that they smell of unpleasant bodily gasses. Some people say they hate the texture. The thing is, Brussels sprouts are delicate and kind little gems. If you overcook them, sadly you’ve lost them to awful smells and squelchy textures. Treat them tenderly , as they deserve and they will bestow silky and generous flavour with each pretty layer upon layer, upon layer…

Now, I know they can be boring if they are just boiled and smeared with butter and we and the Brussels sprouts deserve more than that at Christmas. My recipe for Indo-Chinese style Brussels is simple to throw together and offers a crispy layer that reveals some pretty punchy favours. They don’t consume the sprout like a thick sauce would remember, this more like a little juice that mingles with the sprout. It’s different, it’s fun, it tastes good. Oh and I’ve chosen to use purple Brussels sprouts, because they are pretty. Simple.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

5-6cm stick of galangal, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
One small red onion, finely diced
Oil for deep frying
2 tbsp of a chilli sauce (I used Natco Malaysian chilli sauce)
10tbsp plain flour
3/4 cup water
5 tbsp corn flour
300g purple Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
Salt for the batter
A pinch of ground black pepper

Method
1. Place the Brussels sprouts in one large bowl, then drizzle on the soy sauce and chilli sauce. Add the chilies, onion, minced garlic and ginger and onion. Stir it all well to ensure proper coverage and put it in the fridge for an hour.image
2. Heat the oil for deep frying
3. To make the batter stir the plain and corn flours together well whilst dry and then add the salt and pepper and mix again. Stir in the water for make a thick batter and then check the oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of the batter into the oil. If it sizzles and rises then the oil is hot enough.
4. Scoop and individual Brussels sprouts into the juices and onion and then quickly dip it into the batter so as not to lose the juices into the batter. Drop it I into the oil and fry until lightly golden.
5. Remove the sprouts onto kitchen paper and serve whilst they are hot and crispy.

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

This also been entered into the Four Seasons Food Challenge

fsf-autumn

Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg

 

 

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

11 Dec

Vegetarian Christmas recipe - open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto



I have a fabulous new recipe for nut roast’, my friend told me yesterday. Apparently it is different and definitely not dry.

‘What shall I make for my in-laws’ my neighbour asked. ‘I’m planning a mushroom pie’.

‘Well, I suppose we could all have turkey and the vegetarian can have the vegetables and some vegetarian gravy’. Said one of the ladies emailing me this week.

‘I might just get something vegetarian from Marks and Spencer’s or Waitrose and I’m sure it’ll be lovely’ proposed another.

I’m not mocking the traditional nut roast that is rich and nutritious. It doesn’t have to taste like dehydrated sawdust, honestly it doesn’t. And mushroom pie? Nothing wrong with it. I am sure you know how I feel about mushroom risotto but mushroom pie I can eat…and then I feel a bit icky.

So, here’s a colourful option for Christmas that has a balance of spicy and creamy mushrooms, sweet and spicy butternut squash and a punchy and herby coriander and parsley pesto on top. Lovely slippery pasta, some toasted cashew…it just looks and tastes special and that is what is about at Christmas I reckon.

To serve 4

To make the mushroom masala
250g chestnut mushroom, sliced
125g ricotta cheese
Salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic
One red onion, finely diced
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil

To make the butternut squash filling
1/2 peeled and grated butternut squash
1 tsp chilli flakes
A good pinch of saffron
Salt to taste
1 tbsp cooking oil

To make the pesto
30g coriander, finely chopped
30g pesto
2 tbsp sesame oil
One chilli
Salt to taste

You will also need
A handful of toasted cashew nuts
Extra virgin oil for drizzling
6-8 large, fresh lasagne sheets

Method
1. To make the butternut squash filling, heat the oil in a pan and the add the butternut squash. Sauté for a minute then add the chilli flakes, salt and saffron. Cook until it is soft enough to squash between fingers, but it should not go mushy. It should take approximately 7-8minutes.
2. To make the mushroom masala, heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle add the red onion, then salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Stir in the coriander powder and then the mushrooms and garam masala. Sauté for two minutes before adding the ricotta. When the ricotta is bubbling, cook for 3 minutes.
3. To make the pesto, simply combine all the ingredients in a grinder and blitz it together until it is fairly smooth.
4. When you are ready to serve, boil the pasta sheets per packet instructions. Wash and drain the lasagne sheets and then again in hot water.
Cut the sheet in half, then half again so that you have 8squares. Layer each square with 1tbsp. Mushrooms masala, then place another square on top of that. Place 1tbsp. Of butternut squash filling on that layer and place one more layer and top it with a tsp of pesto. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of toasted cashew nuts.

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

 

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

9 Dec

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

It’s red and green…Christmassy…get it? Alright, alright I know. It’s not exactly the whackiest idea for colours but it does look festive and it is fun.

I’ve been recipe testing for a few submissions recently and the over day my husband said, ‘I’m tired of eating new things every day, I just want something simple’. My first reaction was to laugh, who gets tired of eating new stuff? My laughter then turned to a, ‘wait a minute, that’s so ungrateful..you get fed well’.
I then explained to him how many of our friends and family don’t cook, or will rustle up a jacket spud. How rude!

But then I thought, he has a point. Sometimes unfussy, simple, clear and punchy flavours just feel good. Like a good plate or pasta, or a deep and earthy soup, maybe a bowl of steaming hot khichdi. All simple, but beautiful dishes.

During Christmas my family seems to graze through the day. We have one meal, the late lunch and then the rest of the day is filled with grazing, munching, nibbling and picking. There are only so many crisps anyone can eat so here a fabulous and festive coloured option. The tomatoes take on an intensely deep and sweet flavour when roasted and the garlic really comes through with a kick of chilli at the end. The dip left my husband in sigh’s of ‘mmm’s and he’s polished off the entire bowl of dip! I have to say that this nutty dip is really very good. The handy thing with this recipe is that it’s great warm or cold. I served with warm pitta and some smoked cheese.

Ingredients for 4 people

For the tomatoes ;

8 large red tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp chilli flakes
Salt to taste

For the dip;

400g soybeans
1 cup plain and natural yoghurt
One red onion, finely diced
25g coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Juice of one lime
1 clove of garlic
A handful of shredded basil.

Method
1. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Half the tomatoes.
2. Lay a large sheet of baking paper and smear across the oil, balsamic, garlic, salt and chilli flakes. image
3. Lay the tomatoes, open side downwards onto the baking tray and roast then at 160degrees for 45minutes.
4. When the tomatoes are warm but not too hot to handle, turn the, over and sprinkle with the basil.
5. To make the dip, boil the beans for 3-4 minutes and them drain them. Blitz them together with the yoghurt, salt, chilli, lime juice and coriander with half the diced onion. When it turns to a coarse paste, fold in the rest of the onion. image

Serve with warm pitta.

Baked spring rolls filled with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn for children

8 Dec

Baked spring rolls with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn

IMG_4755

We live in a culture where bigger is better and somehow, that has become a popular way of thinking when it comes to babies too. As I sat in a circle with other mums at a baby group with my little one on my lap I listened, ‘mine is only 6 months old but wears 9-12 month clothing’. Her friend quipped, ‘mine is 9 months old and where’s clothes for 18 month olds as she eats loads and she even ate some our pizza and garlic bread last night.’

I felt like I was doing my boy an injustice and I worried for his health. No matter which concoction of vegetables or fruits I offered him, he just would not open his mouth. I sang to him, sat him in the garden and even did messy play with food for him to befriend it. I cut his milk back to trigger off more hunger, but nothing. When he was about 8-9 months old I sought medical advice and you know what they told me? They told me he would probably never be an eater, he would always be smaller than average and that he would just not be interested.

I took a deep breath and hushed the expletives roaring around in my head. How can they doom him to a life of food indifference with such conviction? I calmly and firmly told them that I was a very fussy eater as a child and now I am healthy, food loving food writer.

I have learned a lot along the way to getting my boy interested in food. He now loves yoghurty dhal, dosa and spicy vegetable pasta dishes and of course spinach pizza. Here’s some of the things that helped me;

1. I had an ‘aha’ moment when one of my friends pointed out that my boy was getting lots of lovely flavours of Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian food through his milk from what I was eating. So then why would he want a boiled carrot. Introducing flavour and spice in food helps to keep it exciting. kids like flavour too.

2. Eating together as a family means that meal times are a fun and a sociable activity and my boy loves to join in.

3. Variety. In the earl days of weaning I would just give my boy his one bowl of food and if he stopped eating, I thought he was no longer hungry. What I found however is that smaller portions of a variety of items keeps the taste buds and mind stimulated and the tummy ends up fuller. It need not be laborious; I make home-made spiced and unsalted butter and spread it on seeded bread, for example.

4. Eating with other children is fun. I sometimes invite his friends over for pasta and veg with garlic bread. My boy loves to join in with his friends and especially with crunchy, spice and veg filled spring rolls.

5. Taking a picnic or a packed lunch for a day out makes for fun eating. Unravelling goodies whilst sharing special moments as a family is a delight that little ones will share too.

6. Sometimes, he is just not hungry and that’s fine. We don’t always eat three full meals. It’s ok to take the pressure off and leave it until the next meal.

My recipe works really well with my boy and his friends because these spring rolls are crunchy, packed with flavour and they are great hand-held treats for independent eating or eating on the go. Parents love them because they are baked and can be frozen, which is really handy for busy weekdays when you can just whip a few out and put them in the oven

For the full recipes head over to Great British Chef

Apple, Lychee and blackberry (coconut)crumble with rose, cinnamon, cardamon and star anise

6 Dec

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble
I watched the entire 30odd minutes of kangaroo Dundee today. What is wrong with me? I watched a whole programme about a tall and strong looking fellow rescuing and nursing baby kangaroos, becoming their mother

It did get me thinking about comfort though. The primitive need. My boy fell over at playgroup whilst playing away from me and he walked around searching from me in cries that escalated in volume until he found me.

No matter where I am in the world, I always crave okra curry and hot chapatti with yoghurt after a few days. Why does it feel so easy, warm and calm to wake up next to someone you love each day. Remember the feeling of laying your head in your mothers lap and having your hair stroked, or sitting on the lap of your mum or dad in a crowd, the safe place. Maybe the smell of chips is comforting because it was a regular treat, a common feature in the winter take-away suggestions on a Friday or on blustery days by the seaside, laughing with loved ones. Or remember that time when we escaped from arguing relatives, hit the road and ended up at the seaside, in the dark in a bank holiday with nothing to eat, but chips.

Maybe the reason I keep Bollywood serials running in the background is because it feels like someone is there, maybe the sounds are familiar in a way that other shows aren’t or maybe there transport me to times when I actually watched a movie without gadgets for distraction. It’s comforting. Perhaps kadhi is cajoling because its what I’ve always eaten with khichdi when I’ve been sick. Growing up my mum would persuade me to go to the temple with her, she said she got some peace of mind at the temple. I never understood it, until I grew up.

My next recipe offers me comfort. My uncle has become old and frail, but memories of him are younger, still very mature and active. His garden was well tended back in the day. I loved walking along the oaths that were lined with unusual flowers, lots of them. I would head straight for the back of the garden, where a swing hung from an enormous tree. I’d swing and avoid kicking apples. I knew my dad would be carrying them home for apple pie.

Nowadays I give this recipe an exotic and spiced twist. The juices burst through the top of the crumble and make I could drink it. It’s really good, try it.

Ingredients
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used Bramley apples)
150g Blackberries
150g lychees, stoned and halved
120g sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 stick of cinnamon
2 star anise
50ml rose water
A generous knob of butter

For the crumble topping
150g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
75g dedicated coconut

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180degrees
2. Make the crumble topping first, by combining the sugar and the flour, then rubbing in the butter gently, to make a bread-crumb like texture. Then add the desiccated coconut. When it’s ready, put it in the fridge until the topping is needed.image
3. Turn your attention to the fruit, by heating and melting the butter in a pan and adding the Apples and sugar. Crisp the apples up for 3-4 minutes before stirring in the cinnamon, rose water, cardamom, and star anise. Turn off the heat and add the blackberries and lychees
4. Turn the fruit into an oven-proof dish and spread the crumble topping over the fruit, evenlyimage
Bake the crumble in the oven for approximately 20-25minutes before serving…ideally hot!

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

4 Dec

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

They say you become like the people you surround yourself with.

Makes sense, doesn’t it. I mean I’m not talking about people who like to knit or read a particular genre of book. I’m talking about the energy within people. If you surround yourself with people who good-hearted, loving, supportive people who dream lovely things and smile and speak kind and generous words…that is what you’ll become. No ifs, buts, it’ll never work and life is rubbish because..

In this respect, I am blessed. My husband counts his blessings each morning and plays with my boy without checking his phone or looking at a tablet. He thinks that impossible is nothing. My parents taught me to dream and just be a kind and brave person. My brother will always listen and tell me to dust myself out, drop the negative and keep walking. My best friend cheers me on to just be happy in the day and smile for no reason. It’s also been true in the virtual world too.

Sarah from Brockhall farm makes cheese. She’s a witty, warm and utterly encouraging words to share with me for years now and my next recipe popped into my head during a twitter conversation with Sarah. It started with goats cheese, then onto Sarah’s favourite ingredient of chickpeas (chickpea flour in this recipe) spinach and tomatoes. Plus it’s Christmas and I feel like I can eat go no indulge again. So here we have it, a pakora that is goats cheese in a crisp and fluffy batter case of gram flour, spinach, sun-dried tomato and spices of fennel and cumin seeds. I’m really excited by this one. It’s really quite special. When they are warm, the goats cheese is oozy and juicy and the case is fluffy, flecked with green spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes…does it get any better?

I can imagine these would be great as a starter or a side at any party table. Serve hot!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

250g goats cheese (not soft) rolls
200g gram flour
120g sundried tomatoes, coarsely ground or chopped
150g spinach turned into a corse purée
Salt to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
300ml water
Oil for deep-frying
Chilli powder to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric

Method
1. Heat the oil for frying.
2. Whilst the oil is heating, make the batter by mixing the dry ingredients of gram flour, salt, turmeric, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and chilli powder. Mix it through.image
3. Add the spinach, sundried tomato and water and mix it all into an even and thick batter.
4. Check the oil is hot by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and rises then the oil is ready.
5. Cut the goats cheese into circles of around 1.5 cm thickness and gently dip them into the batter and coat them well. Be generous. Quickly drop them into the oil and fry them until they are golden brown.
6. Remove the pakora onto kitchen paper and serve hot with chutneys.

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

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