Monday, 5 February 2018

Tropical treats

Image result for images martinique food

My daughter has just arrived in Martinique.

This was no ordinary arrival though- she came all the way across the Atlantic from Cape Verde with a crew of just 3 others- on a catamaran.
And this is no ordinary tourist trip.
You can read all about it on their Facebook page

In their honour we broke out the rum and coke - and I made a Caribbean themed meal.

To celebrate the food of Martinique I am making a Chicken Colombo with vegetables, a Baked Banana Tart and a Flan Coco-Anis, along with links to other Caribbean themed recipes previously on the blog. I also used the leftover Colombo in a tagine.

Colombo spice is a mild curry powder, made from cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek and  paprika- you can make your own with a teaspoon of each of these plus a teaspoon of madras curry powder- or you can buy a Colombo spice mix (readily available in France- and the Levi Roots Caribbean spice powder is an acceptable alternative in the UK).

To serve 2 (with leftovers) you will need- 2 chicken breasts, 1chopped onion, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp chopped red chilli, 1 courgette, 1 sweet potato, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves, juice of 1/2 lime and 3 heaped tbsp of Colombo powder plus 500 ml vegetable or chicken stock .
Begin by preparing your veg-  part-peel and slice the courgette and chop the carrot into batons,then steam until just tender.
Stripey peeled courgette
Bake the sweet potato ( 5 minutes in the microwave ) in its skin- then peel it and slice it.
Fry the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion is translucent, then add the spices. Next add the chicken and brown it lightly.

Brown the chicken, onion and spices
Put the meat and veg into a casserole dish, along with the bay leaf.
Deglaze the pan with the stock and pour over the meat.

Ready for the oven
Cook for 2 hours until everything is tender. Finally add the lime juice and adjust the seasoning.
You can thicken it with cornflour if you wish- I left it runny to soak into the rice.

Chicken Colombo with Rice
You can make different versions with whatever meat or vegetables you have to hand. Here are a veal and aubergine version, and a pork and potato version.

Veal Colombo with Veg
Pork Colombo with Potatoes
The leftovers were mixed with some chopped tomatoes, leftover mango and apple chutneys and sultanas ( soaked in a little Earl Grey tea to plump them up) to make a tagine served with couscous.

Now, here are two puddings to complement the main course.

Flan Coco-Anis

Heat 1 400 ml can of coconut milk with 100g of sugar and 3 star anise
When the sugar has dissolved, put to one side to infuse and cool a little.
Beat 4 eggs with a tsp of cornflour until smooth.
Discard the star anise ( or keep them for garnish) and pour the milk onto the eggs, whisking all the time.
Whisk the infused coconut milk into the eggs
Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins (lightly oiled in preparation with a neutral veg oil)
Custards ready for the oven
Put the ramekins into a baking tray, half filled with hot water to make a bain-marie.
Bake at 200 degrees for 25 minutes and then 170 degrees until set. (Another 15 minutes or so).
Leave to cool and then serve either turned out of the moulds onto a plate - with a fruit salad on the side- or glazed with vanilla sugar and blow torched or grilled to make a crème brulée.

Flan Coco-Anis Brulée
Baked Banana Tart

First bake a pastry case blind and leave to cool.

Blind baked pastry case- you can tidy it up later!
Take 2 bananas- slice one thinly and mash the other one with a fork.
Spread the banana mash onto the pastry case then beat 3 eggs with 60g of sugar, a splash of milk or cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Pour the custard into the pastry case and then arrange the sliced banana in the custard.

Carefully place in the sliced banana
Grate some nutmeg over the top and bake in a moderate oven (170 degrees) until the custard is set.
Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and serve with ice cream

Tarte à la banane / I.G.
Baked Banana Tart

And served with ice cream

A couple of other ideas from the blog- Pina Colada Crumble
Pina Colada Crumble

 and good old Ginger Cake.

Ginger Cake

I hope this tropical post has brightened up a dull February day for you- and has you dreaming of warmer days to come.
Who know where in the world my culinary odyssey will take me next.

That's up to Mission Ocean!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Veganuary 25th- Burns Night!

Image result for vegan burns supper
I confess that in previous 'Dry Januaries' I have conceded defeat on the 25th. After all, Burns Night wouldn't be the same without a wee dram to toast the Baird, would it?
But with Veganuary- now, there's an easier challenge.
As, whilst some hae meat- you don't need to!

Burns Cottage in Alloway

My relationship with Rabbie is a complicated one- going back many years- to 1973 in fact, when I got my first summer job as a tour guide in his birthplace in Alloway.
Although I didn't appreciate him then, in my later years I have come to acknowledge the genius of this working class hero and champion of the Auld Scots language and folklore.
So, every 25th January I serve a traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties- and say the Selkirk Grace.

Well, when I say traditional.....

It's 2018, it's Veganuary- and we're having Clapshot Soup with Buckwheat and Dill Scones, Veggie Haggis Kofte with Neep and Tattie Falafel and Chilli Jelly followed by Whisky Shortbread. Ha! But a meal's a meal for a' that...

Clapshot Soup with Haggis Samosas

The Clapshot Soup I have made many times before on this blog- with any leftover roast root veg fried up with a tablespoon of curry paste and blitzed with a litre of strong vegetable stock to make a warming and spicy starter. You can make it a more substantial main the next day by adding some haggis samosas ( made from your leftover haggis ).

The Buckwheat and Dill Scones have a blini-like flavour (whch goes well with smoked salmon for non-veggies or with cream cheese -like AlproSoya)

Buckwheat and Dill Scones
120g plain flour
100g buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped dill
2 tsp mustard
150 ml soy milk approx (or natural yoghurt for non-vegans)
60g veg marge

1. Sift together the flours, salt and baking powder.
2. Rub the marge into the flour and add the chopped dill
3. Mix in the soy milk and mustard gradually with a knife, until you begin to have a soft dough
4. Bring the dough together on a floured board and roll out to about 3 cm thick
5. Cut out with a pastry cutter of your choice
6. Place on a well greased baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes until risen and golden.

Now for the main event- Haggis Kofte
Image result for macsweens vegetarian haggis
Vegan haggis
MacSweens do a vegetarian haggis which they say is suitable for vegans too. I often make my own- but it is not vegan as it contains an egg: 
Go with whichever one you want.

Image result for macsweens  haggis kofte
Haggis Kofte
(Photo courtesy of Macsweens)
 You will need:
1 veggie haggis or 300g homemade haggis
1 finely chopped red chilli
100g fresh breadcrumbs
50g onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic - crushed and chopped
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or coriander
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper and oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and shape into 6 sausages. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.
2. Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water and then thread the patties on to them.
3. Brush with oil and grill- or bake on baking paper at 175 degrees- until brown and sizzling.

Neep and Tattie Falafel
I make falafel with all sorts of veg- butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot- so why not neeps and tatties?

1. Roast 500g of  chopped swede (neeps), 100g cubed potatoes, 2 red onions (quartered) and 3 garlic cloves in a hot oven in a tbsp of veg oil, 1 tbsp coarse grain mustard and some salt and pepper until the veg are soft and caramelized.
Roasted root veg

2. Blitz to a puree 1 tin of chickpeas (drained) with 1 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander, the juice of a lemon and 2 tbsp olive oil.
3. Add the roasted garlic cloves and onion and pulse.
4. Mash the neeps and tatties or pass them through a ricer
5. In a bowl, combine the veg and chickpeas with 1 heaped tbsp flour, 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp each of powdered cumin, coriander and cinnamon and 1/2 tsp turmeric

Neeps, tatties and spices ready to mix
6. Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste
7. Roll the falafel into balls or spoon onto a baking tray lined with baking paper

Neep Falafel ready for baking
8. Brush with oil and bake at 170 degrees until browned and beginning to crisp.
If they spread (like these have)- allow to cool briefly and then gently reshape.
(I sometimes like to cook these the day before and then give them a short second burst in the oven just before serving to make them even darker and firmer).

Wee sleekit falafel

I serve these with toasted pitta breads, hummus and chilli jelly.

Chilli Jelly
I use mild chillis - but you can up the heat and flavour by using hotter ones or more of them.
You will need 6-7 sterilised jars ( passed through a hot wash in the dishwasher and then placed to dry at 50 degrees in the oven until you need them.)
750g red, yellow and orange peppers
100g chilli peppers
50g fresh root ginger
350ml cider vinegar
1 kg sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
2 sachets vegegel or agar agar

1. Wash, deseed and roughly chop your peppers

Use a selection of peppers
2. Blitz in a food processor along with the root ginger
3. Bring to the boil in a large pan with the vinegar and lime juice
4. Add the sugar and simmer until dissolved

A colourful panful simmering
5. Bring to the boil for 6-7 minutes ( watching it carefully ) in case it boils over
6. Mix the vegegel or agar agar with a little cold water
7. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then whisk in the gel
8. Pot immediately into the hot jars, seal and label.

Chilli Jelly- perfect with haggis and neeps

Now for pud.

Whisky Shortbread is an easy accompaniment to whatever pud you choose. I usually make it with butter- but it is good made with vegetable margarine too for vegans.

Whisky Shortbread
The best shortbread is made with a ratio of 3:2:1 (eg. 300g flour, 200g butter or vegetable marge, 100g sugar). I like to replace 1 tbsp of the flour with cornflour to lighten it a little.
Just put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fine. Add two caps of whisky and pulse until it comes together in a soft dough.
Turn out into a greased baking tin, press evenly to fill the space and bake at 150 degrees for 15 minutes or so until lightly golden. (Keep an eye on it, as you don't want it to overcook).
Once out of the oven, prick with a fork all over and mark into slices.
Sprinkle with vanilla sugar et voilà!

Time for that wee dram and a toast!

Some hate meat and girn and weep
Resisting all coercion
So bless the tatties, bless the neeps
And the vegetarian version

Then filled with fruits o' field and vine
And feelin' fairlie frisky
The One who water turned to wine
We'd ask to bless the whisky*

Cheers Rabbie!

*Veggie Selkirk Grace- extra verses by Richard Medrington

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day Bakes

Image result for piles of parsnips free images

26th December comes round again- and I have a few more ideas for your Christmas leftovers. Read on if you have parsnips, nuts, veg or chocolate to use up (and I know you do..)

If you've already made your turkey bones and leftover veg into soup- here are some tasty quick rolls ( no need for yeast or proving) to go with it- made with parsnips and chopped herbs:

Parsnip and Herby Rolls:

220g grated parsnips
275g flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp chopped herbs ( eg rosemary or thyme)
1 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp milk or natural yoghurt

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add the grated parsnips
2. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and yoghurt or milk
3. Mix together with a knife and then tip the dough onto a floured board. Divide into 6-8 rolls and place on a greased or lined baking tray.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or so until golden.

Baked rolls
They freeze well too.

The baking powder bread mix is excellent for a quick pizza base too. I make a frying pan version- just roll out your dough to fit your frying pan, fry on one side and then flip it over to fry the other.

Frying pan pizza
Cover with a topping of your choice and bake.

If all yesterday's rich food leaves you craving a vegetarian main dish, which is super-quick to prepare ( and a bit of a cheat- but so what?) then look no further than my Not-Pot.
The cheat's ingredient is tinned (yes tinned) Potato Dauphinoise. This is readily available in Lidl in France (and widely served up in restaurants masquerading as home made!) - but might be harder to source in the UK. Of course you don't have to use tinned- you can make your own (!) or use another supermarket version.


Just rub a clove of garlic around a buttered gratin dish and layer up potato dauphinoise, cooked leeks or onions and/or any other cooked veg you want to use up- I used chard and Jerusalem artichokes (as I grow them) but parsnips, kohl rabi, carrots, squash  etc will be just as nice. Pour on 1/2 cup of stock. Sprinkle with grated cheese and breadcrumbs (you can mix in leftover bread sauce if you have some) and bake in a hot oven until golden.

Image for Marmite Potatoes Boulangere

If you still have cooked parsnips to use up- try them in this savoury loaf. We had it as an accompaniment to the turkey on Christmas Day, then sliced with a salad another day and then hot with a spicy tomato sauce as a vegetarian main the following day!

 Parsnip and Chestnut Loaf
Serves 6 (with accompaniments)
2 large parsnips
Oil, to grease 1 small savoy cabbage, 4–6 outer leaves only  150g hazelnuts 40g butter or oil 1 red onion, finely chopped 150g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped 100g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped 100g cheese, crumbled
100g brown breadcrumbs 2 tsp fresh or dried mixed herbs 1 egg, beaten

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Peel and quarter the parsnips, and cook in boiling, salted water until tender, drain well.
2. Grease a loaf tin approximately 20cm x 10cm x 7cm, then line with foil, and grease this generously. Blanch 6 savoy cabbage leaves in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes: you'll need enough to line the tin with overlapping leaves, but how many depends on the size of your cabbage, so make sure you have enough before you tip away the water. Lay on a tea towel to dry (and snip out the hard central rib)
3. Toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan over a high heat until starting to colour, then set aside. Turn the heat down to medium, add the butter and chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 7 minutes until nicely softened. Blitz in a food processor along with the parsnips.
4. Blitz the hazelnuts and put them in a large bowl along with the chopped chestnuts, crumbled stilton, breadcrumbs and chopped sage. Add the parsnip, onion and mushroom mix followed by the beaten egg. Season and stir together well.

Mix all together in a bowl

5. Line the prepared tin with overlapping cabbage leaves,  

Line the loaf tin with leaves
leaving any excess hanging over the sides, then spoon in the mixture, pressing it down well, and fold any overhanging cabbage leaves back over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, you can keep it in the fridge for a day or so before baking.)
6. Remove the foil from the top and put the loaf back in the oven for another 15 minutes, then take out of the oven, trim off any singed cabbage leaves and put a large serving plate over the top of the tin. Holding the tin with oven gloves, turn the plate over so the loaf inverts on to the plate.

Turn the loaf out onto a plate
7. Cut into slices to serve.
Parsnip and Chestnut Loaf

Finally for something sweet.

I am grateful to Yvette for cooking this up at our Atelier de Cuisine. The recipe is hers.

Speedy Choco-Mint Cake

In a 2 litre measuring jug, pour in 125g flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 75g icing sugar, 100g melted chocolate, 1 pinch of salt, 3 eggs and  100ml of oil or melted butter. Mix well.
Pour into a greased 23cm cake tin or mould and bake for 35 minutes at 180 degrees.

Mix well and pour into mould
Allow to cool.
Chocolate cake ready for icing
For the chocolate mint topping, melt 100g of chocolate with 25ml of crème de menthe or peppermint essence ( or melt 100g of chocolate mints) either in the microwave or in a bowl over a simmering pan of water.
Pour on the icing
Spread over the cake - et voilà...super speedy.

Speedy Choco-Mint Cake
Christmas over, Boxing Day sorted. Time to veg out in front of the telly.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

No-Meat November

Related image

So, you managed a Dry January and survived being Sober for October. Just one more life-style changing month before plunging headfirst into Decadent December.

For health reasons, we are cutting right back on meat and processed foods for a month. Perhaps you would like to join me? I am aiming for a veggie vingtaine- 20 out of the 30 November meals to be meat-free.

I estimate that it will be not just better for our health, but also better for our budget and for the planet.
So here goes.

In addition to the usual pasta, quiches, soups, salads and stir fries which make up our standard meat-free meals- I am looking to expand my repertoire with some new recipes too.
I began with a Vegetable Satay Chow Mein- a selection of veg from the fridge ( courgettes, spring onions, bean sprouts, red pepper, mushrooms ) fried in a wok with some cooked egg noodles added in. The Satay sauce is made quickly from 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp chilli sauce, 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 200 ml coconut milk and 2 tbsp boiling water. Mix it all up and add it to the stir fry. Add more chilli or soy to taste.
Vegetable Satay Chow Mein
The leftovers will go into a Miso Noodle Soup

'Leftovers' Miso Soup
and these yummy little pancakes - Ban Khoai.
Make a pancake batter with 1 egg, 1 cup of plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of milk, a pinch of salt and a pinch of turmeric for colour.
Fry little saucer sized pancakes and stack (keep warm)
Fill each one with a spoonful of the re-fried noodles and veg. Fold and serve in a lettuce leaf with a chilli dipping sauce.
Ban Khoai
Next challenge- a really good veggie burger.

I think I've found it in this 5-a-day Burger.

150 g  fresh mushrooms
50g dried mushrooms
2-3 spring onions
1 clove of garlic ( finely chopped)
1 cup cooked Puy lentils
1tbsp hummus
1 cup grated fresh carrot
1 veg stock cube
1 cup soft white breadcrumbs
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs ( for coating)

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in a tbsp boiling water.
2. Blitz the fresh mushrooms, spring onions and garlic in a food processor

Blitz the mushrooms
3. Squeeze out the soaked mushrooms (keep the liquid), chop and add to the fresh ones.
4. Fry the mushroom mixture, adding a crumbled stock cube and the (filtered) mushroom liquor
5. Cook rapidly until all the moisture has evaporated.

Fry the mushroom mixture and season well
6. Allow to cool and then place in a bowl along with the hummus, carrot and lentils.
Your 5-a-day in a bowl
7. Mix well and then add the soft breadcrumbs to soak up any liquid.
8. Chill for an hour or so, then coat in the toasted breadcrumbs.

Toasted breadcrumbs on
9. Fry in hot oil
Looks like the real thing!

and serve with chips and extra salad.

Now, how about Carrot, Sweetcorn and Courgette Fritters with Fried Halloumi?

Put 1 grated carrot, 1 grated courgette, 1 cup of sweetcorn, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 egg and 1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour in a bowl.

Mix to a batter and then fry spoonfuls in hot oil until golden.

Fry until golden
Serve with slices of fried halloumi and a salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

Carrot, courgette and sweetcorn fritters with fried halloumi

Next, Miso Aubergine with steamed rice.

Slice 2 aubergines, brush with oil and bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes or so until tender. Mix up 2 tbsp miso paste, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp chili sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp sherry ( or mirin or Muscat depending on whether you're in the UK or France). Pour over the aubergines and continue to cook in the oven until the sauce becomes thick and caramelized (15 minutes or so). Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped spring onion. Delicious!

Miso Aubergines
And final dish this month- Butternut Falafel.

Steam or roast (whichever you prefer) 500g of butternut squash, then mash it with a potato masher until it makes a coarse puree.
Blitz to a paste a can of (drained) chick peas with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 handful of chopped parsley, 1 tsp each of ground cumin and coriander, juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Mix together with the squash and shape into patties ( an ice cream scoop does this well).Place on an oiled baking tray and chill for half an hour or so.
Scoop out your falafel onto an oiled baking tray
Bake for around 20 minutes in a hot oven until golden and firm.
Serve with salad, pitta bread and hummus.

Butternut falafel- yum!yum!
And so, how did it go? Did you manage to resist meat? We are finding that we love this new diet.It seems a shame to go back to eating meat- even though Christmas is coming. 

Perhaps we won't.

Image result for dog that has eaten a carrot
If he can do it....