Tag Archives: easy recipes

Cauliflower & Halloumi in tomatoes, fennel stock and saffron

13 Feb

 Cauliflower and halloumi in tomatoes, fennel stock and saffron by Deena Kakaya

De-waste of time stuff

I took a walk with the boy the other day, before the storms.  I was a bit bleary eyed and I can blame only late nights and very good apple and pecan bread, oh and the cinnamon and raisin loaf.  We stopped to look at the blooming snowdrops and daffodils and I smiled that spring is almost here.   Lines of them fluttered for us and we had a little chat about the colour and how they need water and light to grow. My boy asked me, ‘like mumma and me’. I chuckled and said sort of, yes and that people need love and food too. Some groups of pre-teens walked past, in categories of pretty and flamboyant, comical and loud, and simply cheeky.  I, now feeling category-less, tried to reflect on what groupings I had grown through and what sort of company had influenced me, then decided that this was a pointless activity but you do become like the people you surround yourself with. We then stopped in the supermarket and a tot wanted to engage with me, I asked his mother how old he was, but she was tapping away at her phone and didn’t answer.  My phone buzzed away with messages about things that could have been more positive. My heart sank a few notches and I wondered why .

We talk about de-cluttering and detoxing in our family, quite a bit.  Clear the things or undertakings that are draining distractions or energy suckers. For example; omitting energy-draining foods, clearing unwanted magazines, removing damaged toys, halting diverting activities like too much time on Facebook that waste precious time, deleting fuzzy pictures on the laptop, giving away unused Christmas bits and bobs…and closing our eyes to the people that want to walk in our minds with their dirty feet.

I drank a lot of dill water when I was nursing.  I can’t admit to ever liking it but as a first time mother my protective maternal instinct was at lioness levels and I knew that the dill water helped to stimulate precious milk production and would help keep my new-born baby’s tummy clear and wind-free. That’s what inspired my recipe but do believe that this recipe is boring. Oh no.

What excites me about this recipe is that both cauliflower and Halloumi absorb flavours superbly. They are mellow in themselves and the cauliflower is a giver and receiver of flavour. The Halloumi softens politely and accepts the juices of this dish graciously. No longer chewy, the cheese becomes pleasurably oozy. The fennel stock is distinctly there, but not loudly. The saffron is absolutely showy in the colour and the delicate flavour, but not overpoweringly. The thyme, the lemon, the onion… all accents this dish subtly. There is nothing overwhelming about this recipe. But it is heart-warming. Do it.

Cauliflower and halloumi in tomatoes, fennel stock and saffron by Deena Kakaya

Ingredients to serve 4-6

One medium head of cauliflower, separated into large florets

One medium onion, sliced

1 ½ tbsp. fennel seeds

500ml boiling hot water

One can of chopped tomatoes

200g Halloumi cheese cut into thick fingers

A few springs of thyme

Half a lemon

A good pinch of saffron

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. mustard oil

Method

  1. Put the fennel seeds into a jug and pour in the boiling water. Let it settle for an hour or so and when the stock looks like its infused with the seeds, begin cooking.
  2. In a deep pan heat the oil and add the onion with the salt and sauté for a minute. Add the cauliflower and Halloumi and coat them well with the oil. Allow them to catch a light golden colour, before pouring in the chopped tomatoes and mix it well. Pour in the fennel stock, but not the seeds. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Add 1 tsp. of the fennel seeds and a good pinch of saffron and let them fuse with the stock.
  4. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add a few (4 or so) springs of thyme and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked.

 

Serve with pasta or rice or mop it up with bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep it kind and easy- Tomato, chilli, lemongrass, basil and rice noodle soup

17 Dec
Keep it kind and easy- Tomato, chilli, lemongrass, basil and rice noodle soup

Tomato, chilli, lemongrass, basil and rice noodle soup


Keep it kind and easy- Tomato, chilli, lemongrass, basil and rice noodle soup


 I’ve been running through tunnels of cotton wool this week. Glimpses of light and muffled noises permeate through pillows and tangles but nothing seems to make sense. I’m running and I’m tired. I’ve got handfuls of fluff though, good enough?

I spent three days down with a horrid tummy bug and couldn’t eat for those three days. I had the usual nausea, fever and no food I ate settled, so I went without for three days. Now, even though it is Christmas and I perhaps should be cooking up a festive frenzy, I feel like I need to treat my body kindly, tenderly and eat easy, simple and gentle foods.

There also something in eating to your mood right? I’m not talking about cravings for chips or chocolate cake. I’m talking about eating hot and fiery foods when feeling as such. Nibbling on creative and classy little canapés when feeling fanciful, or eating simply, deliciously and naturally like I am feeling I should do, now.

My soup is not full of heavy doses of any ingredient, neither is it punchy. It is clean and subtle. Lemongrass is perhaps an unusual ingredient to be paired with tomato but it works and is refreshing. There’s a little bit of spice, a small amount of zing and a whole lot of calm.

Ingredients

500g deep red tomatoes, skinned
2 chillies, finely chopped
One root of lemongrass either minced to a purée, or slit in half
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil (I used coconut oil by the groovy food company)
30g basil, shredded
1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped for garnishing
125g rice noodles

Method
1. Start by immersing the tomatoes in hot water for a few minutes and them rinse them in cold water. The skin will slip off.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan, then add the mustard seeds, chilies and cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to sizzle before adding the the onions and lemon grass. Sauté for a minute.
3. Pour the vegetable stock in, then the rice wine vinegar and soy sauce with the palm sugar.
4. Bring the stock to a simmer and then add the tomatoes after roughly chopping them. Sprinkle in the basil and simmer for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the rice noodles and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

If you like noodle soups you may enjoy some of these

chilli tahini noodle soup-broccoli tempeh

a soup is not just for winter Deena’s emerald summer-soup with thai basil

It’ll be ok asian style sweetcorn soup chilli cumin coriander rice flour dumplings

chilli tamarind asian style cauliflower soup

 

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup recipe

23 Nov
Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup

Ladies, when you have a night off with your friends do you leave your partner to make his own dinner because he really can or should be able to, or are you utterly and perhaps overly kind like me and leave a proper meal ready and waiting. Gentlemen, when you are doing whatever it is you do and you won’t be with your wonderful lady, do you leave dinner made with love?

Now, I’m sure some people reading this may think…goodness here’s another woman from the dark ages. They may just roll their eyes reading this and think…how utterly submissive, maybe nothing better to do or even just of the mentality that I need to serve my husband.

None of the above, relax. I just can’t let go. When I’m away, my husband will eat a toasted sandwich or order pizza. He will eat pasta with ketchup and cheese or…the one that makes me cringe…he will eat cereal. That’s right, cereal for dinner.

Can you imagine how that frustrates me. Not only is cereal for dinner cold, it’s nutritionally inappropriate for more than one meal a day and its well..it’s cereal. So the reason I leave a dinner is that I can relax and have fun in the knowledge that it won’t be cereal.

That said, I will definitely opt for a quick and easy option to extend my kindness and concern. I need time to get ready and I need to stop for fuel. So here’s what I put together in 20minutes; a hot and sour soup of chilli and tamarind with cauliflower floating happily in Asian style juices. It will definitely hit the spot. It’s one that will help you feel all your senses again in this weather and the cauliflower delicately mingles and shares its essence with the soup. Aah, relax.

Ingredients to serve 4 bowls

500g cauliflower cut into 3-4 cm florets
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with a little warm water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cm piece of ginger, minced
2 red chillies, halved
4-5 spring onions, chopped into bite sized pieces
3tbsp tamarind concentrate mixed with 400ml water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp smoked paprika

Method
1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and very quickly add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion browns lightly before adding the cauliflower. Sprinkle in the paprika and mix well.
2. Pour in the soy sauce, mix again and then add the vegetable stock and tamarind juice. Blend in the corn flour with water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 7minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked.

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

21 Nov

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

The simple things

We had friends over for dinner today. For a couple of hours, according to my husband, I was like the old me. I chatted, I fed people and I smiled lots. I put my phone away and the house was warm. I had Mickey Mouse ears on and my boy dragged me the playroom. He took his little friends hand and they ran around the living room together.

My boy ran up to the other day and sighed, ‘mumma, I missed you…I love you mumma’. He’s been getting up at night because he misses me and wants to sleep next to his mumma.

My husband and I reminisced about travelling to Brighton one winter, when we were crazy young fools. The winds bashed against the sea and the jar wobbled in defence. We were parked outside a chip shop, the aroma seeped inside us and our frozen ears detected banter. The skies were deep grey and we had Robbin Williams playing on the car radio. We returned to the car, watched the waves threaten the pier and ate steaming hot chips off wooden forks.

Life’s most joyful moments are in the simplest ones. We all know that. It’s as complicated as we make it, isn’t it?

My salad is simple. It has few ingredients but they are fresh and invigorating. The kiwi fruit and mint add a juicy vibrancy and the parsley and sweet potato give the salad sweet depth. The salty and pungent chaat masala is not to be compromised on and the Beetroot gives fabulous colour. This is an unusual salad, but then I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share an unusual recipe. What I really love about this salad is that the juice of the kiwi fruit blends with the chaat masala and the peppercorns an sits on the sweet potato too. This one is a real quencher, do it.

Ingredients

300g sweet potato,peeled and cubed into 3-4cm chunks
4 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
50g Beetroot
40g flat leaf parsley
40g coriander
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black and red peppercorns

Method
1. Boil the sweet potato for about 7cm or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.
2. In the meantime, make the pesto by blitzing together the parsley, mint, chaat masala, beetroot, black pepper and lemon juice. Stop when it is almost smooth in texture.
3. When the sweet potato is cooked, drain and cool until the cubes are dry.
4. Combine the potato, kiwi and the pesto gently until there is even coverage.

I served this with halloumi cheese and some lovely flatbreads and it was magic.

Cooking with Herbs

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.

Social Grazing; Masala Peanuts

13 Nov

Most people I talk to these days reckon I should put my (swollen) feet up and chill (despite my internal combustion system) out, eat and watch movies etc. and let the (busy-at-work-due-to Christmas) husband indulge me.  Thinking about it is relaxing, but those who know me, know that I never stop!

So, my thinking has been that I want to pack in as much as I can before the baby arrives so that I feel upbeat and productive…a great mood to welcome a new little person with. Funnily enough I have been doing a lot of entertaining, chatting and late nights too (the baby websites express how naughty that is, after all, people in my ‘condition’ need the rest.)  This weekend for instance has been filled with the laughter of people in three different cities and multiple cuisines. I am generating and storing memories and bonds…the stuff of smiles.

Besides, I feel so blessed that well-wishers want to see me for adult-chat before the baby arrives and they want to see and track the development of the ever-growing bump.

This is a joyful time and you know that all of my happy times have a strong association with food and it’s usually me doing the cooking, of course. I have enjoyed treating my friends and family as guinea-pigs and seeing as I struggle with big meals, there has been grazing-a-plenty! 

I love this recipe…you can’t go wrong with crunchy, spicy nuts with a light sour kick.  A bowl full of these won’t last very long…but I love them for filling the gaps between courses, or simply for nibbling on whilst giggling, laughing crunching.

Masala Peanuts

Ingredients

3/4 cup shelled peanuts

3/4 cup gram flour

1/4 cup rice flour

The spices; 1 tbsp. coriander powder, ½ tbsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. dried mango powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, ¼ tsp. dried ginger powder

Up to 1 cup Water as needed

Oil to fry

Method

  1. In a hot, non-stick pan, lightly roast the peanuts until they have slightly browned, then leave them to cool
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients and then add the water and the peanuts to form a batter and ensure all of the peanuts are covered evenly.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan to fry the peanuts, the oil should be a couple of inches depth.
  4. Fry the peanuts until they are golden brown, but make sure that they are separate and don’t clog together when frying.  Remove them onto kitchen paper and allow them to cool.  You can devour them just as they are.

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

5 May

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

Do you have childhood memories of being cajoled into eating?

Shiny shoes with glistening buckles swung, knocking at the kitchen cupboards whilst I was perched onto a kitchen worktop in velvety dungarees and a sympathetic, fresh polo neck jumper. Mum or Dad leaned their tummy gently against my knees, for balance and in sing song and over-enthusiastic grins and upstretched eyebrows, they  transported ‘aeroplanes’ loaded with rice, bathed in tomato soup and widened their mouths, hoping that I’d mirror them.

It’s the sort of food that’s easy, juicy and sweet in a dribble inducing sort of way. Modest, economical but its familiarity and succulence is calming…but you know that I like to meander to new ways with gorgeous stuff. These days it’s a roasting red, spicy kick that I’m longing for. The thought of dried red chillies, releasing their sweet heat when soaked sets my heart a-flutter (but not on fire, I don’t go that far!). That’s why this recipe I’m about to share with you gives me my fix; I can change it to suit my mood. More or less heat, some veg, a bit of bite or crunch or something soft or squidgy. To be honest, I could make a meal out of this recipe, I don’t need much else.

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup tomato pulp

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g of roasted red peppers (the jarred stuff is fine to use for this recipe)

4-5 shallots, finely chopped

7-8 curry leaves

2 tbsp.  Channa dhal (Bengal gram)

10-15 cashew nuts halved

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli (or to taste)

300g uncooked rice

The spices; ½ tsp. garam masala, ½ tsp. mustard seeds, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, salt to taste,

Method

  1.  Wash and boil the rice and then keep it to the side
  2. Whilst the rice is cooking, whizz (roughly) together the  tomatoes and the roasted red peppers to a deep red pulp
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan, then add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds,  chillies, Bengal gram and curry leaves and cook until the gram is golden brown and crunchy
  4. Stir in the cashew nuts and stir until they’ve browned a little
  5. Bring it together with the onions, add the salt and sauté for a couple of minutes before bringing in the garlic and sauté until they have softened
  6. Add the tomatoes and red pepper and bring It to a gentle simmer before stirring in the garam masala and then stir in the cooked rice
  7. Serve with something yogurt and garnish with coriander.
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