Tag Archives: comfort food

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup

17 Dec

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup

I don’t like sweet soups.

But then again I don’t like much sweet stuff in my savoury food and so raisins and apricots appearing in my dinner make me queasy.  It just feels odd to me, when there are gentle and definitely pleasant savoury flavours in a warm and spicy dish, out pops a raisin to ruin it. And this is also why I can’t cope with butternut squash curry.  My tongue is furring up in repulsed resistance as I type. I know, I know, I understand that the balance of sweet and heat works but I can’t make a meal of it. I may enjoy a forkful or two but I cannot make a meal of a sweet food. Years ago, before twitter became as massive as it is, I said something of this tune when flicking through foodie magazines and watching Saturday kitchen in bed. This was obviously back in the day before my boy and when I could work during sociable hours and I was still acquainted with free time. Anyway, I said something like, ‘oh no not another butternut squash curry’ and I have to say, it wasn’t a popular comment.

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup by Deena Kakaya

Now that it is just ridiculously cold I am getting cosy with soup again, and this one is my current favourite. Roasted cauliflower is mildly sweet, but not in a sugary sort of way and that, I love. There are also lightly, suggestively sweet onions and delicately aromatic and tenderly sweet garlic and oh, creamy dreamy walnuts. The fennel seeds bestow this soup with generous aroma and lovely warmth. It’s a calming and soothing sort of soup this one, even the colours are neutral and I am finding myself in need of some calm. But you have to make sure that it isn’t lumpy…especially the walnuts.  I used my Optimum 9400 froothie and I got a superbly smooth and creamy result.

My head spins just looking at the queues at the supermarkets these days. I am thinking calm and warm thoughts, of an unquestionably savoury kind.

Ingredients to serve 4

One medium to large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

One large red onion, cut into thick chunks

Rapeseed oil to coat the onion and cauliflower

1 ½ tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and crushed

5 tbsp. walnuts

Whole milk to soak the walnuts in

6 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed

6 cups of vegetable stock

One medium potato, cut into chunks

1 tsp. cumin seeds

A pinch of garam masala

Method

  1. Coat the onion and cauliflower in the rapeseed oil and roast them in the oven, with the garlic at 180degrees until they are lightly golden and releasing their aroma.
  2. Soak the walnuts in the warm milk (enough to cover them)
  3. Heat the butter in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to sizzle and add the potato, coating it in the butter.
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, before introducing the cauliflower, onion, and garlic and garam masala.
  5. Blitz the walnuts smooth (there should be no lumps or chunks) and then add them to the soup.
  6. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes before blending it smooth. Add more water if you need to loosen it up.

 

Moroccan Harira meets vegan cottage pie

11 Dec

Moroccan Harira meets vegan cottage pie

They say that travel broadens the mind, but what does that actually mean?

Moroccan style vegan cottage pie by Deena Kakaya

Does it mean that we learn about other cultures and ways of life, new languages, different cuisines or perhaps unfamiliar landscapes and explore intriguing wildlife or flora? Does it mean that we speak to people that we wouldn’t ordinarily speak with and feel their joys, anguishes and reasons for fatigue? Or does it mean that we push ourselves out of a comfort zone and this in itself grows us?

I suppose it depends on not only where you go, but how you travel. Did lying languidly on a Mauritian beach a few years ago broaden my mind in an educational sense? Listening to an ex-prisoner on Robben Island telling us about the rationally differentiated ration card and cutting sun-reflecting limestone in the sun however, left me wondering how forgiving a person I am?

I spent 9 days in Dubai last week. It was my fourth visit and my husband travels frequently for work. In fact, we went to the same resort as we had visited last year when my boy was just a year old. We had decided many years ago that we would never visit the same destination twice, but many things change when you have children.

Moroccan style vegan cottage pie by Deena Kakaya

Dubai is packed full of ex-pats and a myriad of cultures, plethora of cuisines, a whole haze of languages and my eyes blur with the multiple construction sites. It is hot, it is growing and it is has promise. So, what did I learn during my recent travels?

Well, I had a few moments to think whilst my husband fed my boy falafel and green rice in our favourite Lebanese restaurant within the resort. I had just watched, and admired a belly dancer whilst considering whether her body had been augmented and was now listening to the live singer whilst scooping up the most wonderful garlic and herb hummus with fresh balloon bread. My mind wandered off and that I do learn when I am away is that the jurisdictions of possibility are all in my head. Look at the people around me. I made a point of trying to learn the story of as many people I came across in Dubai as I could. The waiter from India who has doubled his salary by moving, didn’t stop at other’s notions of what is inconceivable, the female taxi driver who had escaped a harmful relationship and gained independence had not put limitations on herself either.  The people who yearned for sunlight and sand between their toes, or even just safety…they didn’t stop moving did they?

So from sipping Harira to wanting healthy comfort food at home, here are those two worlds on a plate. Harira is a fragrant with cinnamon and saffron and kind soup that is deep with lentils and gently spiced. This is an oil free recipe and vegan too. I haven’t even used any cheese because it is not needed with those Moroccan essences. I have used the finest sweet potatoes sent to me by Riverford and some of their massive shiny leeks that enhance the light sweetness of this dish.

for the full recipe head over to great British chefs

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

3 Oct

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

 

I cook a lot of ‘welcome home’ meals these days.

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

I have a husband who travels a lot for work and I’ve spent most of this month solo parenting, juggling lectures and cookery classes, recipe submissions and general life. Thank goodness for my awesome parents who have done their best, again, for me? Each time he goes away though, I feel like I grow.

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

This time I have grown because I had to sort my repeated, month long car related mayhem out myself (although my brother helped significantly), I grew because I had to prepare lectures through till 2am and wake with my toddler at 7am and get him sorted without the 30mins of relief that his dad might otherwise give me in the morning.  I grew because I had to fix the printer ink issues out and get taxis at 10pm on my return from work that broke down whilst my phone battery died. I grew because when a relative told me that she is never left in the home alone by her family because she fears the silence and won’t go to toilet alone, i realised that i no longer dear the lonely evenings. I no longer feel sad when people see through social media that I am on my own but don’t take a couple of minutes to ask how I am, because you know, everyone is living their own challenge each day, in their own way. But most of all, I grew because life just carried on as normal.

So, after a couple of days with my folks I received a welcome home present from Riverford. A huge box of seasonal fruit and vegetables packaged in green, and tucked at the side of my home.  My toddler yelped, ‘yes, it’s the vegetables mumma, what did they send?’ The best of the season’s last tomatoes and a bulbous butternut squash amongst green goodness of autumn is what they sent.  I’m always so impressed by the perfect quality of the fruit and veg, there’s not a single bruise on them and they smell so sweet and earthy.  My tot almost instantly headed for a chair and asked to scrub the vegetables to reveal luminous oranges and red of sweet potatoes and peppers and we got the most perfectly quenching grapes.

 

I have to admit though; I’m not normally a butternut squash kind of person. I don’t like sweet soups and I can’t eat them boiled, I just can’t. But the colour of this one was just so rapturing that I needed to do something with it.

 

To me, a welcome home meal is one that is bubbling and simmering, thick and cajoling. A smile for home trickles through when the meal is nourishing and inviting, and full of the flavours of home. When my Husband arrived home from his last trip in Australia I made an Indian inspired feast of curries and dhal, vegetable and cheese raitha, Shrikhand and a stack of chapatti and vegetable rice. But this time, he returned from Mumbai and I knew he would have not only the finest Indian food but also some Chinese, Mexican and Italian food, so what to feed him this time?

 

This pistachio and slow roasted tomato rotolo is rousing in that the slow tomatoes tingle on the tongue with sharp sweetness and the pistachio and quark is a whack of aroma and colour which balances with the rich and thick spiced butternut squash sauce. A little goes a long way.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Roasted tomato, orange and chilli soup

4 Jan

Tomato, Orange and Chilli soup by Deena KakayaEverything halts, doesn’t it? Play dates get cancelled and kids stay at home, away from nursery or school. Grown-ups either martyr on without thanks or, ‘work from home’. Dinners out with friends get postponed and any outdoor activity is null and void and substituted with snuggling under a blanket and intermittently catching daytime TV between uncomfortable snoozes. Yes, it is the season of sickness.

We have been fortunate in our house to have escaped many of the rounds that the bugs have done, so far. We all generally have pretty robust immune systems and I like to think that in part, this is due to what we eat, although though the festive indulgence did get the better of me. Not only did I suffer from horrid food poisoning, I spent a good couple of weeks popping heavy, greasy, cheesy or chocolaty concoctions into my mouth like they were air-filled. I felt queasy, bloated, heavy and sore in the tummy. I felt lethargic and constantly sick and clearly, my body is meant to eat clean, natural, colourful and light

for the full recipe, head over to great British chefs

He asked for jacket potato and beans-so I gave him black beans, smoked Aubergine, pineapple and feta on a jacket

30 Nov

sJacket potato with black beans, smokey Aubergine, pineapple and feta

I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner the other day and he said jacket potato with cheese and beans. Now, call me a food snob if you like but I don’t like the tomato sauce in the tins of baked beans. I know, I know, lots of people say that with a bit of chilli sauce or pepper they’re great with lovely melting cheese. I’m just not very keen on them and it seems like my little one isn’t either. He will eat black beans or kidney beans in a curry, but he won’t eat baked beans.

But who can blame the man for wanting a steaming hot jacket potato with a crisp and crunchy skin, fluffy clouds of soothing spud on the inside with oozy and juicy fillings? Is there anyone out there that isn’t drooling at the thought?

I know they are convenient and have some nutritional benefits, but no. I just can’t. So, following twitter conversations with Monica Shaw and Nazima Pathan I thought of a very gorgeous, balanced and flavour packed alternative. My jacket spud filling is far from boring or ordinary. It is deep with black beans, smoky with roasted Aubergine and smoked paprika, sweet with pineapple and has a kick of chilli and a tang from rice wine vinegar…lets not forget the Thai basil or salty feta on top. It’s a sigh-worthy comfort meal.

Ingredients to serve 3-4

4 medium baking potatoes
One tin of black beans
3 large tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
3 medium aubergines
150g ripe pineapple
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp minced Thai basil
1.5tbsp rice wine vinegar
1-2 red chillies, minced
2tbsp cooking oil
Feta for crumbling on top
Salt to taste.

Method
1. Wash the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with a cloth. Leave them to dry completely before drizzling them with olive oil and baking them in an oven at 180 degrees for 1.5hours. Ovens vary of course.
2. Wash and dry the aubergines and cover them in oil. Roast them until they shrivel and can be pierced all the way through. It should take 30-40minutes. Remove the Aubergine and leave them to cool. Once cool, remove the skin from the aubergines and mash the pulp to a soother consistency.
3. Skin the tomatoes by immersing them in boiling water until the skins start to split. Wash them in cold water before whipping the skin off. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and leave them to a side.
4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, chilli and paprika and sauté for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, aubergine, pineapple and salt.
5. Stir in the Thai basil, rice wine vinegar and mix it all through. Cook on a low to medium flame for 8-10 minutes.
6. Once the potatoes are cooked, slit them open and top with the bean Michael and crumble feta on top.

For more comfort food recipes, check out my;

Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

Easy entertaining portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamy, spiced smoky Aubergine pulp and Beetroot.

My food onesie; ‘samosa filling’ macaroni and cheese

You can follow me on Pinterest and Google+ now

It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

17 Nov

It'll be ok - Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings
It’s been an amazing weekend. I feel utterly blessed and grateful. On Saturday afternoon I was on the Tesco finest interview stage at the BBC Good Food show. I had a moment of realisation as Lotte Duncan was interviewing Cyrus Todiwala before me and I saw my dad, husband, baby boy, brother, sis in law and niece waiting. Beaming. Love does funny things to you doesn’t it, seeing their faces through blurry eyes, I swelled with a lovely feeling of ‘I did that’.

Earlier that day I was in the green room. I met some wonderful people from Masterchef and The great British bake-off. Both the ex contestants/winners and presenters sat surrounding screens and munching. I thought, a lot. I thought about how brave these people are to follow their heart, to stand before a crowd of food lovers and demonstrate perfection. I thought about humility and balance in life and I saw how much of a food professionals life, heart and mind goes into delivering short and long-term. It really is different to what may people perceive.

The interview was fabulous fun. We talked about fusion food and whether it is a modern atrocity or an assault on the taste buds. We talked about my fussy boy and how he is my biggest food project and we chuckled about fishing food out of the bra and then eating it. The audience tasted some of my festive plantain chip mix and we also considered whether it is hard to be vegetarian. We even talked about whether Brussels sprouts smell like fart and what I do to them that makes them gorgeous! You know that I stuff them in a curry.

Today I am shattered. I walked around in heels the entire day and twice around the producers section eating my way through fabulous chocolate, wonderful macaroons and oils with cheeses. All I wanted today was food that real people like to eat, cuddles with my boy and the telly. I am back in leggings rather than a bodycon dress and my hair is back up.

I love this soup because it’s a whole meal; it’s hot, has a bite, has tons of flavour and those dumplings are a smooth and spicy joy. We had two bowls each…see how you go.

Ingredients

For the soup

Two large tins of sweetcorn
1.5litres of vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, minced
4-5 spring onions
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce

For the dumplings

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of ground rice or rice flour
Salt to taste
2 green chilies
25g coriander, washed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds

1. To make the soup, heat the sesame oil in a deep pan and then quickly add the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the sweetcorn. Mix in the soy sauce and stir it well.
2. Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and then bring the soup to a simmer.
3. When the soup is boiling add the corn flour and water. Make sure you mix the corn flour with warm water because it will dissolve better. Simmer the soup for ten minutes before turning it off the heat.
4. To make the dumplings, start by making a paste from the Coriander and chilli.image
5. Heat the water in a separate pan. When it is boiling add the cumin seeds then the salt and the coriander and chilli paste. Simmer for a minute and then add the ground rice or rice flour in a stream, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon. Smooth any lumps out. Let me rice flour cool until it is lukewarm.
6. To make the dumplings grease your palms and take a pinch of the rice flour and make 3-4cm sized balls. Place them onto a plate.
7. Bring the soup to a simmer again, add the dumplings and simmer for 7-8 minutes,

Serve the soup hot and fresh. It’s gorgeous.

This month I am entering this into the Credit Crunch Munch pages on Helen and Camilla’s blogs

image

 

Being a soup this has also been shared with my friends at FSF hosted by Delicieux & Eat Your Veg on each entry.

fsf-autumn
 

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

13 Nov

 

 

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

My lovely neighbour gave me a bag full of plantain today; fresh and green. I racked my brain for ways to use it. I thought of the spiced plantain mash I had at ‘mama’s roadside kitchen’ in st.Lucia or the indian curry my mum would make when we were kids, using her experience of living in Uganda as a child. I asked my friends on twitter and they suggested cake. I didn’t fancy any of these lovely recipes today, for some reason.

In the morning, by boy and I went shopping for women’s undergarments. My normally chatty and excitable child completely freaked out and sobbed loudly in the fitting cubicle and insisted, ‘put a jumper and jacket on mumma, put the clothes on mumma’. He’s not yet two but here we go. So I took him for a walk and stopped at the dried fruits and nuts section which looked festive but blue. Why blue? Anyway, that’s when it struck me.

But I did have a brief period of confusion; which is a more festive nut…the cashew or almond? Cashews are more expensive. Does that make it more special? I do recall my mum sending food parcels of special stuff for my grandmother in India when friends or relatives visited. Mum sent cashews, always. She also sent saffron and chocolate. Now I think back, it’s such a lovely thing to do.

But then, almonds are pretty special also. When we were in st.Lucia we stayed between the majestic pitons, hidden away. We were staying at a resort where the beach sat in a calm little cove and one of the paths along the beach was layer in almond shells. I loves cracking them open to find smooth almonds. It’s lovely that nature can create such a perfect little nut.

I’m actually rather excited about this simple yet addictive recipe. It’s really good. This tropical looking mix is crunchy, sweet, aromatic and there’s a lovely hint of chilli right at the end. It’s delightful. I’ve used agave nectar to sweeten the mix so, healthier than loads of sugar. You have to try it.

Ingredients for two gift containers

One large green plantain
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
A generous handful of dried cranberries
200g cashew nuts
Oil for frying plantain chips

1 . Heat the oil in a deep pan and in the meantime, take the green skin off the plantain and cut the plantain into 1 cm thick circles with a knife of mandolin.
2. Fry the chips until they are crisp and deepened in colour. You will feel that they are tougher and crisp when you move them with a slotted spoon.
3. Remove the chips onto a kitchen paper and leave them to cool.
4. In a non stick pan, toast the cashew nuts until they are lightly golden before adding the cinnamon and the plantain chips. Mix well.
5. Stir in the chilli flakes, mix again. Then add the agave nectar and the desiccated coconut. Thoroughly mix it all together to make sure the spices and coconut are evenly distributed.
6. Toss in the dried cranberries and mix again.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before packaging it.

This has also been entered into Feel Good Food Challenge hosted by Jibberjabberuk and Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door

 

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

My food onesie; ‘samosa filling’ macaroni and cheese

11 Nov


Samosa filling macaroni cheese

When I am tired and cold (which is pretty much every evening theses days) I want foods that will soothe me into my natural rhythm and it’s not always posh nosh. I am a fan of strange and superb concoctions, novel recipes that get the mind and the taste buds tingling…but when I am feeling this way, you know what I want. I want a hot water bottle, a blanket, cuddles, Mahabharata on the telly ( the only programme I watch these days) and some proper comforting and nostalgic comfort food. This is why I call it my food onsie.

What’s happened to me? Thinking back a few years I never wore my hair up when I was out, wore contact lenses only when socialising and mostly wore make up when I left the house. I went shopping for clothes regularly and knew about what was trending. I watched films and knew what was hot and not. And now?

Now I am cold and tired and I need more sleep. Last week I went to playgroup with snot on my shoulder and I wear leggings way too often. My hair is up because I don’t want it pulled and I wear glasses more than lenses. I wear cosy socks and thought of investing in a slanket (blanket with sleeves). I need sleep and comfort food that tastes hot and moderately spiced and just delicious. That’s it. Talk about the simple things eh?

This one is indulgent and is like eating a samosa in the rain. It just works. The vegetables are simple and easy, just how life should be. The mac is cheesy and the top is crunchy with breadcrumbs and its good. Just how life should be. Let me tell you, you won’t get the munchies after eating this dish…you will sleep well…just as we all should.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

600g macaroni
Half a medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
75g petit pois
75g sweetcorn kernels
One medium onion, diced
100g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 curry leaves
2 green chilies
Salt to taste
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
2tbsp, vegetable oil for cooking
1/2 tsp turmeric
One medium potato, diced
One medium leek, cut into bite sized chunks
120g mature cheese, grated plus another couple of handfuls for the topping
100g breadcrumbs
1200ml milk
20g butter
4tbsp. Plain flour

Method

1. Boil the macaroni per the packet instructions. Wash and drain when it is cooked and leave it to a side.
2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin, turmeric, curry leaves and chilli. Let the seeds sizzle and then add the onion and salt. Sauté until the onion is softened and then add the rest of the vegetables.
3. Mix the vegetables in the oil well and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook until the potato is soft enough to pierce. This should take 10-12 minutes.
4. In the meantime, make the cheese sauce by melting the butter and adding the plain flour to make a soft paste. Loosen it up with a bit of oil if needed. Add the milk and whisk on a medium to low flame until the paste is absorbed into the milk. Then add the cheese and whisk lightly and loosely until the sauce thickens. Turn the heat off.
5. Take a deep and long baking tray and spread the macaroni into the tray. Combine it with the cooked vegetables and mic thoroughly. Introduce the cheese sauce and mix again. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and and then top with the breadcrumbs, evenly.
6. Put the tray under the grill and brown lightly.

Serve hot and you won’t need a hot water bottle. Snooze afterwards if you can, it adds to the effect.

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.

Indian spiced exotic mushroom, cauliflower and pea pie

24 Sep

Indian spiced exotic mushroom, cauliflower and pea pie
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For years I’d stopped eating pies. I’d happily bolt past the pasty stand at kings cross station, without a single hankering. I’d swiftly flick past the recipes for pies in the magazines and didn’t stop to consider the modern day varieties. My mind deleted the pie entries in restaurants and I certainly never made one at Christmas, just because we are vegetarians.

I think I stopped eating them because I found them boring, simple as that. Maybe there was a health factor too; after all, I was going to fitness classes 3-4 times a week. After a class of body attack, I didn’t want a pie. I just don’t fancy a load of mushrooms in pastry. We used to have one with samosa mix inside and cheese which was pretty scrummy, but even then…no.

Funnily enough, I became reacquainted with pies because I picked up some exotic mushrooms in Tesco and I was making a vegetable and cheese sauce for my tot. Exotic mushrooms are, for want of a better description, really mushroomy. They are delicate too and don’t need a lot of cooking. They are light and feathery and go so, so well with a crispy ad puffy pastry top. Also, the folks are staying this week whilst the husband is in Moscow. It is quite enlightening, seeing parents age and almost regress to behaviours such as a lack of patience, the emotional sensitivity and the need to be heard, a lot.

As you can imagine, juggling food preferences is no picnic. The boy likes spinach and tofu curry, dad won’t eat tofu. Dad wants a chip butty, the boy won’t eat bread. Mum can’t cope without chappati, I need variety. Dad likes lots of chilli and salt, I can’t cope with either. I want a herb pesto, dad thinks it is too fussy. I want gnocchi and he wants a jacket potato. You see where I’m going with this. So I made pie (right up his street) but my way. Guess who ate half the pie? (I’m not kidding, he really did).

This recipe does justice to mild and distinct flavours as well as being fragrantly spiced and sunny coloured. I’ve only got a pastry top on it, rather than the stuffing being encased in pastry. The stuffing is the star of the dish, gently but mature. Colourful and developed. Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious flavours in this pie, but it isn’t the spices.

Ingredients

350g puff pastry sheet, thawed if frozen (per packet instructions)
50g plain flour
300ml vegetable stock
400ml milk
A large nob of butter and a drizzle of oil
175g mixed exotic mushrooms. I’ve used pink oysters, yellow oysters and shiitake mushrooms
50g cheese
Half a head of a medium sized cauliflower
100g peas
2 cloves of garlic
One large onion, sliced

The spices; salt to taste, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin seeds

Method

1. Start by making the stuffing. Heat a couple of tbsp of oil a d add the cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle before adding the onion and garlic, sauté for a coupe of minutes.
2. In the meantime, boil the cauliflower and the peas for 3-4 minutes. Wen they are el dente remove from the heat and drain.
3. Stir in the mushrooms with the onions and garlic and sauté for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the cauliflower and peas to the mushrooms and add the salt, garam masala, turmeric and chilli powder. Mix well before turning off the heat.
5. To make the sauce, heat the butter and soften it with a drizzle of oil. Then add the plain flour and make a paste. Stir in the milk gently whilst whisking to avoid lumps. Add the vegetable sauce and on a medium flame, keep whisking until the lumps have dissolved and the sauce starts to thicken, before adding the cheese. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens, when you should turn off the heat.
6. Combine the sauce and the vegetables before pouring them into a circular oven proof dish. Mine is about 20cm diameter.
7. Top the pie with 3-4 long strips of pastry and dong forget to make s small steam hole in the top and bake in the oven at 180degrees for about 30minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top.

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