Dinner

Kala Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Jane on 'The Rock' - Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Jane on ‘The Rock’ – Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Finally, we post something!!!!  We have loads of half finished bits typed hurriedly in internet cafes, but have yet had the time and drive to actually finish one off!  

We’ve been in Indian now for three months and things have been thick with experience and too many foodie experiences to recollect.  Expect many Indian themed post soon, packed full of delicious and authentic recipes……. 

Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu 21st March 2014

Kodai is a little ex-British Hill Station (somewhere where the Raj used to go and cool off during the summer months).  Lots of little Anglo Indian stone cottages with lawns and chimneys, tea rooms and a beautiful lake.  We are staying on a farm, on a steep slope, with spectacular views over the plains towards Madurai.  It thick jungle, full nature and absolutely beautiful and best of all, we have a small kitchen to play in!!!!!

A random little post here, but we are half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere (Southern India). This recipe came together on our first night in Karuna Farm, in the green and verdant Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. We have been sweating and meditating, sweating and yoga-ing, sweating and chanting our way through the early part of March in the Sivananda Ashram, outside Madurai. The temperatures soared, so it is magical to be up here in the mountains where the night air is crisp and the sunrises come on like an intergalactic firework show.

This is a spectacular little farm and we are witnessing many positive projects in motion. They are building earth ships, from recyclable car tyres and starting a permaculture project to supply the on-farm restaurant with some proper local produce.

On Sunday, Jane and I ventured up to Kodai Kanala (the main town). We walked through little villages, with many smiles greeting us, for 2 hours and then managed to catch a little rickety van the rest of the way to town (we’re quite remote here!).

Kodai is an old British hill station, with many rock built chalets and a large dollop of Christianity. It is now a popular retreat for Indian honeymooners and surprisingly few gringos on the streets.

Haggling at Kodai Market

Haggling at Kodai Market

Sunday is market day and we spent most of it wandering around and ogling the local produce. Non of it organic, but all of it vibrant and full of potential. Our accommodation, a nice little cottage in a banana plantation, actually has a kitchen!  The first time we’ve been able to cook, apart from random cooking classes and making spicy tea with the chai wallas.  I was so chuffed to be having a bash at the pots and pans again.  We filled our backpacks with veggies and fruits and have not looked back since.

Internet in India is tough and I must apologise for the lack of BHK activity in recent times. We have heads full of recipes and new ways of conjuring up tasty nibbles.  We can’t wait to share them with you all from HQ (North Wales, which seems like a million and one miles away).

WHAT IS KALA CHANA?

Kala Chana (also Desi Chana or Bengal Gram) are brown chickpeas, unprocessed and packed with fibre.   ‘Kala’ actually means black in Hindi and Urdu.  They have more of a robust texture than your average chicker.  This type of chana has been enjoyed all over the world for millenia, from ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, to Africa and Latin America.  It has been used in British cooking since the middle ages.

Chana is so versatile to a veggie cook, we can boil them, sprout them, roast them in the oven, make them into magic puree’s (like hummus) or even make desserts with them.

We love this rough chana, especially in a dish with full flavoured veggies like cabbage and beetroot. A lovely old lady was selling these bok chois, we couldn’t resist them. I have never seen them cooked in India, but you wouldn’t expect us to be traditional now would you??!!

This is a highly spiced dish, similar to chana masala in many ways. The spices are warming including cinnamon and cloves, making it very much north Indian fare. In the South we have been eating mainly coconuts and white rice, the staple down here. Generally lightly spiced bu heavy on the dried chilli.

This dish, served with a massive salad, made a wonderful change and we actually cooked it ourselves! I have to say our bellies have not felt this good in the 2 month India adventure.

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Grating the veggies for the sauce (called a masala over here) gives the overall dish a smoother texture and helps to thicken things up. Of course, grating things unlocks the flavours of the veggies and means you don’t need to cook them for so long to get maximum flavour.

I will be volunteering on an organic farm and cooking in a vegan kitchen soon, settling down a little. I imagine they will have internet and should catch up a little with the backlog of recipes and posts that have accumulated on my little computer gadget. There are some crackers!
Namaste and Much Love,

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX

The Bits – For 2
2 tbs coconut oil (or cooking oil)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed and diced)
6 large leaves bok choi (plus their fleshly stumps, chopped)
1 large carrot (scrubbed and grated)
1 small potato (scrubbed and diced)
1 big handful cabbage (grated)

Masala
1 onion (peeled and grated)
4-5 cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
1 ½ inch ginger (peeled and grated)
3 tomatoes (grated, skins discarded)
2 teas garam masala (or spice mix of your choice)
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tea cumin seeds
1 teas black mustard seeds
2 tbs curry leaves
½ teas chilli powder
½ teas sea salt
½ teas black pepper

¾ cup chana daal (soaked overnight)

Brown Chana Masala with  Beetroot and Bok Choi

Brown Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Do It
Drain your chickpeas and rinse. Place in a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for 1 hour (or until nicely tender).

Whilst they’re cooking, get your masala ready. In a frying pan, warm 1 tbs of oil, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick fry for a 30 seconds then add the onions. Fry all on a med high heat for 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic, ginger and beetroot, fry for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and cabbage. Stir well and warm through. Cook for 5 minutes and add the garam masala, chilli powder and tomato. Bring to a boil and cover. After 10 minutes cooking on a steady simmer, add 100ml water and stir, then recover. Cooking for another 10 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Now add the masala to the chickpea pan, there should be some liquid left in the pan. Stir in and thin out the sauce with more water if needed. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Be heavy on the pepper, chana masala loves pepper!

In a small frying pan, warm 1 tbs oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves on medium heat. Let the splutter for 30 seconds and remove pan from the heat.

Once the chickpeas are warm through, stir in the seasoned oil and serve.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

Serve
In these parts we’d be having rice and rice (with a side helping of rice!)  but tonight, in our own little cottage, we’re having one of Jane’s bonza raw salads; with grated beetroot, kohlrabi, peanuts, beetroot leaves, carrot, coriander and lots more market fresh bits (when Jane does a salad, the entire veg basket is used!)

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Foodie Fact
Kala Chana is very high in dietary fibre, one big bowlful of this curry with give women almost half of their daily intake of fibre (men a little less than that).  These brown garbanzos are also high in protein and rich in minerals like iron, copper and manganese.

Kala Chana is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, remains have been discovered dating back 7500 years!  India is by far the biggest producer of chana in the world, Australia is the second, which I find surprising.

 

Categories: Curries, Dinner, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Simple Chickpea and Pumpkin Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

Simple Chickpea Stew

In the Beach house we love simple cooking with a smile and this stew definitely makes us beam a bit.  We’ve just landed in Spain after a mental few weeks in the UK for a variety of reasons that we’d prefer not to bore you with.  I am super busy on a food based project that I will no doubt tell you about soon, but until then, the posts are going to be few and far between as I type my little fingers to the bone.

Some of you may have read about our winter retreat last year, near the sleepy port town of Mazzaron, up near the hills (you will no doubt be unsurprised to hear).  It’s a real country area and the Med sparkles from our terrace every morning and each night sky is filled with incredible maps of stars.  All that sun means there are some amazing veggies for sale here in the markets and we have loved having a dabble and a haggle!  We pick up ridiculous bargains and then get home and wonder what on earth we are going to do with it all…!  We only have a little kitchen and the Beach House Kitchen (Part II) is slightly underequipped compared to the gleaming ‘Mark 1’.

Our favourite new bit of equipment is a wooden handled knife that we picked up off a flamenco-loving-gypsy-with-a-mullet for a euro.  It seems to be impervious to bluntness.  The Excalibur of onion chopping and potato peeling.  It is worth mentioning that we buy lettuce and tomatoes from this fellow’s Mum, who normally wears a pink dressing gown and a has a cigarette hanging from her mouth.  The dressing gown is held together by a piece of frayed string and is probably one of the most fashionable statements on display, come market day, in little Puerto Mazarron.  We love that market, but this week it was called off due to adverse weather conditions.  It rained a little and was a little blowy!  We wouldn’t get much done in Wales with these kind of restrictions.

We have just spent a busy week with my Mum doing plenty of café and bar hopping and taking in a few ancient looking little towns along the way.  Unfortunately every time we’ve got the camera out, at least one of us has been stuffing our face with tapas, so we are short of pleasant pictures of us lounging around the place.  I’m sure you can imagine the scene we enough and I hope we are not rubbing in our good fortune to be here.  To balance things out, I have had my normal restaurant experience in Spain, which go a little something like this:

Step 1)  I apologise profusely for being a vegetarian, smile through the imminent baffled glare and disdain, then fully expect the worst…..

Step 2)  I am faced with a decision to eat around fish and or meat or go hungry.

Step 3) The next course arrives and I revert to Step 2

Step 4) I eat fruit for dessert

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Vibrant veggies in the mix

Having said that, the wine is good and cheap and this carries me through each disappointing dining experience.  You’ve got to love the people here though – a brilliant bunch of rogues, fishermen and characters.  Veganism or Vegetarianism has not reached these parts, but when it does, it will be repelled with sharp sticks and incredulous words.  NO HAM!  What are you, insane!!!!!  I love them all, even if they think I am from the planet Parsnip.

NB Casa Monika’s in Puert0 Mazzaron is not included in this generalization, as one of the LOVELY owners Jose is Vegetarian, and the food rocks. Thank you.

So……we keep things even simpler in Spain and this was a stew we had for dinner last night and thought you guys would love.  The chickpeas here are little works of art, after soaking they swell up like small plums and the spices are very, very potent.  The smoked paprika almost takes your breath away and the cumin we can still smell even when its sealed in a jar in a cupboard (at first Jane thought I had some strange musty body odour thing going on).

We use a lot of vegetables here, making full use of our mammoth stash, but you can really pick and choose what ever is handy.  The classic combination of warming spices and chickpeas will lend itself to almost any vegetable.  As you can see, I like to sweeten it a little with dates, it seems in-keeping with the style of the dish.  You can always omit the sweetener, or use some honey or brown sugar.  Another idea we have been playing with recently to good effect is adding a little soya milk to stews and soups; it is surprisingly creamy and changes the texture.  You may like to throw a cup of soya milk in here and see how it goes (it will go well!!!!) Jane did it by mistake the other day confusing the carton of stock with Soya milk in a pea and mint soup… it was a lucky accident (the less said about her vegetable stock-on-muesli accident the better though)!

The coriander and glug of olive oil at the end sets this dish apart, as with so many stews and soups, that little finishing touch makes all of the difference.  Golden olive oil warmed on a stew is something almost to gorgeous to describe in feeble words.  I am sure Jane would say ‘It’s ace!’ and I would certainly agree.

I’d love to think that we’ll be posting again soon and we’ll be drinking G and T’s on the terrace on your behalf!  It’s a Beach House life, what can we say!!!!!

Lovely salad accompaniment

Lovely salad accompaniment

The Bits – For 4-6

1 inch and a half square ginger (grated), 3 garlic cloves (peeled and grated), ½ tsp cinnamon,1 tsp ground oriander, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground cumin

2 tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree (depending on how good your tomatoes are), 1 carrot (finely diced), handful of cabbage leaves (or other greens), 1 onion (finely sliced), 1 cup of pumpkin (medium sized cubes), 1 small courgette (same size as pumpkin), 2 handfuls of spinach leaves.

3 cups of chickpeas (with cooking juices), 4 fresh dates (finely chopped), 1 cup vegetable stock, sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Fresh coriander leaves and stalks (for topping)

Do It

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in fresh water for roughly 45mins- 1 hour  (add 1 teas of bicarb of soda to speed up the cooking process).

In a hot pan, brown the onions for 3-4 minutes. Then add the fresh ginger, garlic, pumpkin, carrot and courgette. Fry them off for 5 minutes.

Now add the cabbage leaves, cumin, sweet paprika, ground coriander, cinnamon, and chopped fresh tomatoes (with the tomato puree if you’re using it). Time for the chickpeas with their juice from their cooking and a good old stir.

Add one cup stock if needed (if you haven’t got enough chickpea juice). Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are nice and tender.

Sprinkle in spinach leaves cover and turn off heat.  Leave for 5 minutes and give a final stir and serve.

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

Even more salad reinforcements (we eat alot of salad in Spain!)

We Love It

This is our every day nosh, full of veggies and goodness.  This is the type of winter fuel that sparks us into life! We worship the tasty spicy-ness of this dish.

Foodie Fact

Chickpeas are super high in fibre and are renowned for their ‘filling’ properties.  Eat a few, feel full, don’t snack on all those beetroot crisps you’ve got locked away in the cupboards.  Chickpeas have been shown to help stabilise insulin and blood sugar, they are also awesome for your digestion and colon.  Lovely little chickers!!!!!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giant Stuffed Courgettes with a Herb Camarague Rice, Sweetcorn and Walnuts (Vegan)

Ready for a final roast

Ready for a final roast

In the time of harvest bounty my mind naturally turns to stuffing!  I have no idea why, there are so many massive vegetables everywhere that it seems like the logical thing to do, they look so cool served whole and are far, far more interesting when stuffed with something uber delicious like fresh sweetcorn, toasted walnuts and some nutty red rice.

Most cultures love a good stuffing, I read recently that in the Middle East they actually have machines to carve holes in carrots etc, you can buy pre-hollowed vegetables at the market in bags.  Now that’s spoiling all the fun (or is it?!)  I am not very good with DIY, the thought of getting the Black and Decker out to carve a carrot sets alarm bells ringing.   Do I love stuffing that much?

Everything is going a very courgette at the moment!  They are everywhere and this is a fine way to use up the wonder glut of this delicate immature fruit.  This particular beast is of the golden/ yellow variety and was over a foot long.  (This post was written a month ago when courgettes were really hanging out there, now they have finished their shenanigans for another year.  Mores the pity.  Bring on the roots!)  

In fact, the best thing that can happened to a courgette is a good stuffing. Its not every vegetable you can say that about, but a courgette is at it finest full of filling other than its own, it has to be said, watery, slightly mushy interior. Here we have replaced it with red camarague rice, walnuts, sweetcorn and many other forms of ultra deliciousness.  A stuffing to be proud of!

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

Mighty Golden Courgette Towers

I also like to cut courgettes thin length ways and salt them for a while, then use them as a base for an endless number of bakes and gratins.  You can pack alot of courgettes into one of these dishes and the dense nature of a well baked gratin is a wonderful way to serve this normally gentle and light veg.  Having said that, simply fried with garlic and olive oil, there’s another real winner.

Courgettes are allegedly easy to cultivate, but we don’t get the heat up here on the hill.  We also get wind, which tends to knock them down.  We get ours from Trigonos, a small organic farm and retreat centre just over the hill in the next valley, Nantlle.  I am very lucky to work there at the moment and play with all the produce from the fertile land near the lake.  See here, its a magic place,

Jane is going away a lot recently (attending many interesting workshops) and we are making the very most of our short times together.  Today has been a rare early autumnal day, fresh this morning, warm in the day and a beautiful sunset, the perfect day for al fresco dining with some bubbles and twilight all around.

We sat on our bench near the stone circle and wolfed these delicious courgette treats with lashings of Russian chard and beetroot leaves.  It is that wonderful time of year when everything seems to be coming out to play (on the plate) and we are inundated with beautiful produce.  The only problem is, what to do with it all? Our veg basket is brimming over and the freezer is filling nicely, anybody fancy coming over for dinner?  We feel like gluttons, but are still smiling.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is berry picking.  How cool is that!  All these free berries sprouting from hedgerows and footpaths.  Leave the berries near railways alone, they use a weed killer-type train to kill all the plants around the railways meaning these berries will be contaminated.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (again!)

The elderberries on our hill are nearly ready and we fancy making some wine this time around, I have a recipe up my sleeve.  The thought of homemade elderberry wine makes us both whoop, and we haven’t even drank any yet!

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

Camarague Rice filling on the hob

I have chopped this big boy up, but you could just half it lengthways and add the filling.  This dish is like a vegetarian roast turkey, quite a centre piece for any table.  We have kept it vegan here, but cheese added to the mix or sprinkled on just before the final roast would be a magical addition, a cheese with a bit of punch to stand up to the big flavours, a mature cheddar or pecorino.

If you can’t get your hands on giant courgettes, normal size ones are fine, but a little more fiddly.  They will also cook quicker, take 5-10 minutes off the final roasting time.

This recipe will make a little too much stuffing, but its great cold as a salad or maybe find another vegetable to stuff.  Tomato?  How about an apple?

Other things we’ve done with courgettes:

Golden Courgette and Basil Au Gratin

Stuffed Courgette with Hazelnut and Peach

Char those bad boys

Char those bad boys

The Bits

1 giant courgette (yellow, green……), 1 1/2 cup cooked camarague rice (or rice of your choice), 1 handful of chopped and toasted  walnuts, 1/2 handful of sunflower seeds (roasted is best), 1 small onion, 1 small carrot, 1 medium potato (all three finely diced), 1 corn on the cob (kernels off the cob), 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 8 cherry tomatoes (quatered, or one normal sized tomato), 1 tbs tomato puree, 1 teas dried dill, 1/2 teas dried mint, 1/2 teas dried thyme, 1 teas all spice, 1/2 cup veg stock, 1/2 cup raisins (finely chopped)

Do It

Cook your rice (as you like or follow packet instructions)

Preheat and oven 200oC

Warm a griddle pan (not necessary, but looks pretty).  Start by chopping your courgette into interesting shapes with flat bottoms, so they sit up on the roasting tray.  We have gone for bishops, maybe you’d like a crown, or just a flat top?

Rub them with oil, use your hands and pop them on a griddle pan, presentation side first.  Leave to char up for around 5 minutes.  Be sure not to move them and you’ll get nicely defined scorch marks. Then into the oven for a 10 minute pre-roast.

Why this is going on, get your prep ready for the filling.

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs olive oil on med/ high heat and add the onion, saute for five  minutes until going golden, then add your corn and carrot, stir and heat for three minutes then add your potatoes and garlic, saute for a further three minutes then add your herbs and spices.  Stir well, so not allow any bottom sticking.  Add tomatoes and stock.  Add 1 tbs of water if  the heat is too high and things are getting stuck to the bottom.

Now add your seeds, nuts and cooked rice.  Bring to a boil, add a glug of good olive oil, give it a final stir  and pop a lid on it.  Turn heat off and leave to settle for ten minutes.

Your courgettes should now be ready.  Grab them out of the oven and set aside for a moment to cool just a little.

Get a reasonable spoon (dessert) and begin to spoon your hot mixture into to courgettes, packing it down as you go, filling every possible space with tasty filling.

Now pop them back into the oven for a fifteen minute blast and after that the courgette should be softened and the filling piping hot and ready to devour.

Giant Golden Courgettes served with wilted Rainbow Chard

Giant Golden Courgettes served with Wilted Chard, Beetroot Leaves and Toasted Walnuts

Serve

We sprinkled ours with a few more toasted walnuts, some wilted chard, beetroot leaves and good olive oil.  We would also recommend a nice tangy tomato based sauce or chutney.  Although these densely packed courgettes are meals in themselves and need little else on the plate to satisfy.

We Love It!

A real decadent dinner treat here, fit for special occasions and Tuesday nights after work.  It does take little preparation but the combinations of textures and flavours are worth the modest toil.  Get golden courgettes if you can, if they aren’t in the shops, hit your local farm and flutter your eyelids a little (always works for me).

Foodie Fact

Technically courgettes are an immature fruit (which sounds alot like a good friend of ours) and can grow to over a metre long.

Golden/ Yellow courgettes are not only very cool to look at they are also have a higher carotene content than your average green courgettes, they are also good for vitamin C and A with plenty of potassium to boot.

Brit disclaimer – What we repeatedly refer to as a courgette in this post may be known to some of you as a zucchini.  We at the Beach House Kitchen mean no offense in the flagrant use of our British-ness and actually prefer the name Zucchini, it sounds like fun and has a ‘Z’ in it, which is always very cool in our world.  Maybe we can all just call them Zuch-ettes and bridge our islands vocab gap.  Just to add greater confusion to the mix in South Africa they call these beauts baby marrow.    

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (Vegan)

I'm too sexy for my figs

I’m too sexy for my figs

You cannot say that we aren’t good to you, here are two recipes on one plate!  It also has to be said that we are quite good to ourselves, this is our Thursday night treat dinner (or ‘tea’ as Jane calls it).   A farrotto with the lovely nuttiness of spelt and gorgeously sweet glazed figs topped off with some citrus tofu feta.

Every Thursday, I’m normally off work and Jane gets back early, we head off to the big smoke (Bangor – which is a small town with a big Cathedral) and we pick up our veg box from a wonderful little farm in Bethel and then head to a cafe and maybe pick up some fruit.  Today these beautifully plump figs caught my eye, I haven’t had the pleasure of figs for an age and love them with a little balsamic glaze.

FARROTTO?

Farrotto is an Italian dish made with ‘faro’ which can be translated as spelt.  Whenever I cook with spelt, it seems timeless.  An ancient grain that has been used for centuries in these parts.  We normally keep spelt for sprouting purposes and love the chew of the stuff in a salad, it’s always a hearty customer.

This farrotto is simply cooked like a risotto, only for longer.  We used some local chestnut mushrooms, fresh garden herbs and giant organic spinach for a classic Italian combo.  We also had a little secret ingredient in our umami powder, a mixture of fine sea salt, seaweed and powdered shiitake mushrooms.  Add to that bags of garlic and a small pile of onion and we are talking Italy on a plate using Welsh produce.  Definitely how we like to do it in the BHK, world food, local bits.

Tofu Feta

Tofu Feta – looks similar, tastes different

FETA TOFU, TOFU FETA, ARE YOU MAD?

As a a vegan, you must eat tofu.  It’s one of the vegan commandments.  If you don’t go tofu, you’re sent to work in Mcdonalds by the vegan police.  It’s not pretty.  Eat tofu!

Tofu feta is a vegan staple and nothing like proper feta but is damn fine and tasty non-the-less.  It is a little tiresome with so much vegan food sharing names with the original cheese/ meat produce.  Its something we’ll all have to live with, but when trying vegan sausages/ burgers/ cheese etc please do not expect something remotely similar.   Approach with an open mind and preferably an open mouth!

As you’d expect from a tofu dish, this is full of powerful plant protein and is superbly lean (no fat in fact).  Always opt for whole bean tofu and you cannot go wrong, tofu is amazingly versatile and we even use it in desserts, check it out - strawberry tofu ice cream cake).

Firm tofu will crumble like a nice feta and if you pop this recipe in a blender you have what could be called tofu ricotta.  We don’t make the names, just the tasty food.

AUTUMN HARVEST TIME

It is that time of the year when the slight chill of winter is in the morning air and the trees and bushes are ladened with fruits and berries.  We had a surprise apple tree spring up a few weeks ago.  We thought it was just a little bush and wham!  Big green apples all over the place.  Result!

We will soon be harvest our potatoes and beetroots, blackberries are everywhere (which is great for walks, no need for a packed lunch!), we will be making rowan syrup soon and bramble jelly. We are also trying to eat as much rainbow chard as possible, it’s irrepressible, which is wonderful news.  We are really thankful for a great summer weather wise and the bounty of autumn is a fine time of year to be a cook, I’ve never roasted so many tomatoes.  It’s the time of year when spare jam jars become a rare commodity.

We love the British seasons but will be cheating again this year and heading to Spain for a large part of it, we then have plans to go further afield.  Eastward.  Hoorah!  I plan on making a pit stop in the Southern Med for a couple of weeks of eating my way around various countries (Jane is heading to Delhi), then waddling around some fascinating historical sights.   I promise to come back inspired with notebooks full of new recipes to try out and a belly full of hummus.

Herb garden raided - My king of bouquet (edible)

Herb garden raided – My king of bouquet (edible)

The Bits

Serves 2 hungry sorts

Farrotto

2 cups spelt grain, 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 small onion (chopped finely), 4 cups large spinach leaves and stems (sliced), 1 cup dried chestnut mushrooms (soaked) or 2 cups fresh, 1 teas umami powder or salt, 1 teas cracked black pepper, 5 large leaves fresh sage (chopped finely, 1 teas dried), 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped, 1/2 teas dried), 1 teas fresh oregano (good pinch dried), 1 cup mushroom soaking liquor, 4 cups good veg stock (kept warm – jug with a plate on top will do, or a covered pan on low temp), 2 tbs good olive oil

Balsamic Figs

2 plump figs (halved from stem down), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas honey, scant pinch of salt and pepper

Tofu Feta

1/2 pack firm tofu (150g crumbled with fingers), juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 teas sea salt, 1-2 cloves garlic minced (depending on how much you love garlic), a few basil leaves (optional – left whole in the feta when marinading)

A couple of handfuls of sharp salad leaves, rocket is perfect.

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Some of the bit and the not-so-secret ingredient

Do It

In a medium sized saucepan, warm on medium heat 1 tbs olive oil, add your onions and saute for 4-5 minutes.  When softened, add garlic and faro to toast a little, saute for 3 minutes further, then add your umami (salt), pepper and mushrooms followed quickly by the liquor all this whilst stirring well!  Intense.  You’ll get a nice hiss now, add your herbs and continue to stir well.  It’s all in the stir this dish.

When the liquor has reduced down, ladle in some warm stock, one ladle at a time as the farrotto becomes thicker and reducing, intensifying the flavours.  Wow, what a thing!  Keep stirring gently.  Cook on a steady heat for around 40 minutes in total, the faro should still have a little bite to it and the consistency of a loose porridge.  Finish with 1 tbs olive oil stirred in just before serving.

The tofu is best made the night before serving to marinade nicely.  Crumble the tofu in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a spoon.  Serve at room temperature, like most things, straight out of the fridge is just not cool.  It’s a flavour killer.

In a small frying pan, get it hot, add you balsamic and honey then your figs straight after, there will be smoke here.  Exciting.  Move the figs around the pan to get well coated in the glaze, cook for two minutes on high heat then remove from pan.  The figs should have a lovely shiny charred look to them.

Figs mid-glaze

Figs mid-glaze

Serve

On one half of a dinner plate, pop a handful of leaves sprinkled with some tofu feta (add walnuts or other nuts here for a super special twist) a couple of fig halves, few twists of black pepper.

On the other half (remember this is two meals in one here!) spoon your lovely thick and gooey farrotto, a sprinkle of herbs and drizzle the whole plate with some fine olive oil.

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta

Chestnut Mushroom and Sage Farrotto with Balsamic Figs and Tofu Feta (as you can see, we are not shy with portions in the BHK, no finger food in our kitchen!)

We Love It!

Like eating in our favourite Italian restaurant in the Beach House.  Who needs to go out for dinner when the food is this good in the casa and you get your starter and main course on the same plate.  Unconventional, but we like it.  Great for sharing.

The citrus tofu and sweet figs work well and the farrotto is our new favourite risotto (if you catch our drift),

Foodie Fact

Spelt is a cousin/ neighbour of wheat, but is lower in gluten making it acceptable to some folk who suffer from wheat allergies.  Generally its better for the belly than wheat and makes a wonderfully nutty loaf in flour state.

Spelt is said to originate from Iran and is 7000 years old (how do they know these things).  Spelt has always been highly regarded and was offered to pagan gods of agriculture to encourage a fine harvest and fertility.

Spelt has a better range of nutrients than the vast majority of wheats, its full of minerals which our body loves.  It is a whole grain meaning it has a good level of dietary fibre, remember that grains are not the only soure of fibre, many fruits are full of it.  Take raspberries for example which have a comparatively higher level of fibre than oats and brown rice put together!

Categories: Autumn, Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Morcilla De Verano – Murcian Summer Black Pudding

Morcilla De Verano

Morcilla De Verano

A really meaty yet vegan substitute for the Spanish classic Morcilla (black pudding basically).  Morcilla De Verano is a classic Murcian (Region in the South of Spain) dish, you regularly see it on tapas bar counters.  Its a great option for me in the land of jambon.  We’ve gone vegan here, with the addition of tempeh (or tofu would be cool also). The aubergine cooks down to its normal lovely golden self and the garlic and onions do their sweet and savoury thing, add to that a raft of Spanish style spice and herb and we’re moving in a gourmet direction.

Even though its called a ‘summer’ dish, we think this is great all year around.  Due to its meaty nature, this is a dish to sate all, we’re always trying to find dishes that will appeal to meat eaters aka most of our family and friends.  You know, I love Spanish food and this dish really taps into the rustic heart of their magical range of cuisine.  More than many other countries, Spanish food speaks of the land and culture.  It is the perfect expression of such a diverse land and for me, the cuisine of the South perfectly matches the arid plains and craggy red mountains.  Its rugged, its got bags of soul and it can take your breath away.

As some of you will know, my parents have a little place over in Murcia, Jane and I are regular visitors chasing the sun and the Med life.  This dish is based on a recipe passed to us from wonderful friends over that way, Fye and Jose.  It is actually Jose’s brother Andres recipe and he created it in an attempt to eat less meat (he’s a real maverick in the area, only 0.3% of Spain’s population are veggies after all).  I still have the little scrap of paper that he wrote it down on one night, for me that is real soul cooking.  This recipe is connected with so many memories of wonderful people and places, we can’t help but love it.  We have of course made our usual Beach House alterations, but this does not stray too far from Andres Murcian delight.   Gracias HombresX

Don’t be shy with the oil here, remember it is Spanish after all!  The dish should be slightly on the oily side which of course makes it very rich and satisfying.  After eating this for dinner Jane exclaimed “I feel like I’ve just eaten meat and two veg” rubbing her belly.  Always a good sign in the Beach House.

We decided that this is a star dish and very versatile.  It could be used to stuff a vegetable, a round courgette sounds perfect.  Taking it into non-vegan land, you could make some wells in the morcilla and crack in some eggs and cook them gently together.  Forming something like a shakshuka.  This could be served with toasted bread and smiles!  Of course, we are talking brilliant tapas potential here.  This Morcilla de Verano is just a brilliant centre piece for so many potential dishes.

Buen Provecho!

The Bits

2 small aubergines, 1 courgette, 1 small onion (all three finely diced and kept seperate), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 2 teas fresh rosemary (finely chopped), 2 teas sherry vinegar, 2 teas sweet paprika, 1/2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas all spice, 2 teas fresh oregano (finely chopped), 200g tempeh (or tofu), 2 teas sea salt, 2 teas cracked black pepper, 3 1/2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs pine nuts (topping)

Do It

This is a three part saute routine, meaning a number of stages until your meaty morcilla is just right.

First saute, courgettes and aubergine

First saute, courgettes and aubergine

Start with your aubergine and courgette.  Add 2 tbs of the oil and warm on a medium heat in a heavy based frying pan.  Add the aubergine and saute for 7-10 minutes, until nice and golden and releasing some of their liquid, then add the courgettes and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  This is the real meaty aspect of the dish, the aubergines should be nicely browned and gorgeously sweet by this stage.  Set aside.

Tempeh hits the pan

Tempeh hits the pan

Next, your tempeh needs sorting.  Chop it up finely, it will resemble dried scramble egg.  Add 1/2 tbs of oil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until it is beginning to get brown around the edges.  Set aside with the aubergine mix.

Now, 1 tbs more oil onions in the same pan (wipe out if necessary).  Lower the heat of things are getting a little hot.  The onions should take 6-8 minutes to become golden, we don’t want to rush them and risk charring them.  Once they are golden, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, pop your vinegar in to a big hiss.  Now it’s time to spice things up.

Sweet onions and spice

Sweet onions and spice

Add your paprika, all spice and cinnamon, saute for a minute, stirring all the time and not allowing the mix to stick.  Then add your herbs and the aubergine/tempeh mix to the pan.  Stir well and warm through for a couple of minutes.  Your ready for the plate.

Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Serve

In a warm serving dish, topped with some pine nuts and a sprinkling of paprika.

We served our morcilla with some steamed green vegetables (broad beans, runner beans and broccoli) with some pan fried lemon cabbage all drizzled with a little truffle oil (a little decadent for a Thursday night!!!!)  As we mentioned above, this morcilla make a great centre piece to any number of dishes.

Morcilla de Verano - looking good!

Morcilla de Verano – looking good!

We Love It!

Really satisfying rustic style Spanish fare.  I imagine this is pretty close to Morcilla itself and cannot wait to try it out on some meat eaters.  Dads coming soon, one of our favourite guinea pigs.

Foodie Fact

Pine nuts are just incredible little things.  Now so expensive, but worth every penny as a treat item.  They can make a real difference to a dish, especially when roasted a little to bring out the flavour.

Pine nuts are full of vitamin A, so you’ll be able to see in the dark.  They have good levels of vitamin D, for the bones and are also rich in vitamin C and iron.  They are quite fatty, which is obvious when you enjoy them, but its mono-unsaturated fats.  Pine nuts are also packed full of energy, great on cereal for a morning buzz and fizz.

Served with some blanched greens and truffle oil - Not bad for Thursday

Served with some blanched greens and truffle oil – Not bad for Thursday

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Egyptian Ful Medames

Egyptian Ful Medames

Egyptian Ful Medames

 

We have hardly been prolific of late, both of us busy as bees.  Things are about to change.  Raw Earth Month is about to commence, more of that later.

It’s great to be getting back in the blog flow, so I thought I’d start with a simple little stew that we love, get warmed up gently.  So its semi-official, the Beach House is back and in many ways, better than ever!!!!!!!

I love broad beans.  They are surprisingly one of Britian’s most ancient crops and we used to make bread out of it until our seafaring sorts brought wheat to these shore.  I haven’t tried broad bean bread, but it sounds mighty.

This is a simple stew and ideal for a midweek dinner, hearty and superbly healthy, it also only takes a short time to prepare.

This may well be the national dish of Egypt, but it’s also served throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Ful (I like to mispronounce it ‘fool’) Medames is a rich, spiced stew that was a true food revelation when I ate it in Cairo old town all those years ago (seven to be exact).  The food of Egypt was a pleasant surprise, as it does not have the reputation of say Lebanon or Iran.  I can think of one little restaurant, buffet style, with fresh flat bread, heavenly light hummus and a large dollop of this on a steel plate.  You can keep your Michelin star joints, this was real food, heart and soul.  They also showed very entertaining Egyptian TV and a beautiful recitation of the Koran, it was a multi-media feast.

The Sphinx and I, many moons ago in Egypt with a smile

The Sphinx and I, many moons ago in Egypt with a smile

This dish is equalled by an Arabian recipe, heavy on the tahini and tomato, which transports broad (fava) beans to something supreme.  I’ll be whipping that up in the future for sure.  Broad beans have such a great, chewy texture, they are great fodder for visiting meat eaters and would sate any ravenous carnivore, especially if you serve topped with a fried egg and lashing of warm bread.  YUM, YUM……

Alas, we live halfway up the hill in sunny Wales and my duty in the Beach House Kitchen it to bring the flavours of the world into our lovely little cottage.  Last night it was flavours of the pharaohs that we dined on and no, we were not walking like an Egyptian afterwards.

Makes one big pan full, enough for 8:

The Bits

1kg whole dried fava beans, 3 garlic clove (blended), 1 red onion (blended), 50g fresh coriander, 25g fresh parsley, 1 large lemons (juice and zest), 1 small hot chilli (finely sliced), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, 700ml good tomato passata, 3 heaped tsp tomato puree
3 heaped tsp brown sugar, 100ml olive oil, sea salt and black pepper

Add a tablespoon of light tahini for added richness.

Do It

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and cook for around one hour until tender.

Toast cumin seeds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, no oil, pop in a pestle and mortar and grind (ground cumin is also fine, but just not as good)

Blend the onion and garlic in a food processor, then fry gently in a little oil. Meanwhile, chop and mix the herbs, oil, lemon juice, chilli and spices.

Add this mixture to the onions and garlic, then cook for a few minutes. Add the passata and tomato puree plus 100ml of fresh water, which you can first use to wash the remains of the passata out of the jar or packet it came in.

Cook for a ten more minutes and then add the beans. Continue to simmer and taste – adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. The beans will be ready as soon as the seasoning is balanced and the sauce is nice and thick.

Ful Medames

Ful Medames

Serve

Eat straight away or allow it to cool, divide into portions and freeze. It’s traditionally eaten with pitta bread, tomato and cucumber salad and a fried egg.

We Love It!

I love bringing the flavours of the bustling streets of Cairo into our quiet little kitchen.  Food evokes so many memories of travel for me and these flavours are allow me to relive days and nights in more exotic times.  I love Wales, but its good to mix things up, regularly.

Foodie Fact

Broad beans offer awesome levels of fibre, keeping the belly and below very happy.  They are full of folate, which lessens heart issues and other nasty diseases.  A cup of broad beans contains 40% of your daily iron (and fibre) and is a brilliant source of lean protein.  They are also easy to grow and even grow well in our windswept veg patch.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Maqluba – Roast Pepper and Aubergine Savoury Cake

Maqluba - Red Pepper and Aubergine Savoury Cake

Maqluba – Red Pepper and Aubergine Savoury Cake

An easier, veggie method of Maqluba (an ‘upside down’ one pot savoury cake), which if made properly takes around a fortnight to prepare.  I, like many of you, have not got a lot of time in the kitchen.  I work in a kitchen so days off are spent trying to stop myself thinking about food, new recipes etc.  This is a difficult task and if Im in the house, the kitchen calls!  This also leads to me eating far too much.

This savoury cake is real festival food, real party time on a plate.  The flavours are an awesome mix and as a centre piece on a table would grace any vegetarian banquet.  It just looks so very cool, all those layers and roasted sweet veggies.

I like to streamline things, I love the idea of food heritage and recipes being handed down through generations.  The providence of dishes are essential to maintain their relevance to a culture, food expresses who and where we are in the world.  We are proud of it and rightly so, all cultures have explored their local produce and experimented to the point of culinary excellence and deliciousness.  Even in Britain, we are pretty handy with potatoes and meat (ps thank you France for the culinary invasion and dragging us away from fish and chips.  Roux brothers, that’s you, the pioneers and saviours of our food ‘culture’).

YOTAM (Again)

I have to say that one person who most excites me in the modern food game is Mr Yotam Ottenleghi.  He is a modern day Roux brother of sorts, responsible for a wave of interest in changing our perceptions towards the foods of the Southern Med.  I have always loved food from this area and surround, but Yotam has taken my understanding of it to another level.  It’s fruity and spicy, nutty and floral, very sweet and very sour, all avenues of flavour are explored and utilised in the cuisine, its also screams with colour.  It’s such a fertile area, great produce abounds at the markets.  Historically, the cultures are old, real old.  You feel that in the food tradition, where feasts are prepared and savoured in a similar way, I’d imagine, to those of the distant past.  The romance of food is alive in the rituals of preparation and the coming together of family and friends in the kitchen and around the dining table.

This take on Maqluba is one such dish.  Having said that, it is historically a dish that is quick and easy for mothers to get together, we certainly have less time on our hands in Westernised countries than others. What a shame!  I can think of nothing more rewarding than preparing a dish with love and attention throughout the day for my loved ones.

The daily shop in Lebanon

Sometimes I wish we could cut the internet to the Beach House.  This would certainly free up some time, but then the Beach House Kitchen would disappear and I enjoy this blogging game far too much for that, meeting all of you wonderful folk from around the world is a real pleasure.  You inspire me!  It’s a modern conundrum indeed!

So I’ve taken the best bits about this traditional dish and had a play with them, it still makes something quite spectacular and I don’t think you lose much flavour by cooking the rice seperately.  I have incorporated all the ingredients at the end and given them a quick steam with rose water which brings things together nicely in a floral fashion.

Depending on your taste and dietary persuasion, you may like to substitute the brown rice for good basmati rice.  This does absorb greater flavour and is a little more tender.

I resisted adding cheese to this dish, but a creamy goats cheese could be used instead of the yoghurt.  Next time, this will be done.

The frying pan you use should not be too deep, the more shallow the pan, the easier it will be to turn out the final cake.  It looks a million dollars this dish when you get it right.

Yotam down at the market

If you like the sound of this, you may also enjoy these recipes:

Imam Bayeldi (Turkish Stuffed Aubergines)  

Welsh, Leek and Feta Pie

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burgers 

The Bits

2 large tomato (1cm slices), 2 large aubergine (width ways – 1cm slices), 1 red pepper (cut into thin slices), 1/2 cauliflower (cut into small florets), 1 leek, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas ground cardamom, 1 teas turmeric, 1 teas all spice, 1 teas bharat (spice mix), 1/4 teas black pepper, 2 leeks, 1 teas lemon zest, 1 cup creamy yoghurt, 1 teas rose water, 1/3 cup crushed toasted almonds/ almond flakes

Rice – 1 1/2 cups brown rice (wholegrain), 2 3/4 cups good veg stock, 5 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 1 handful dried cherries, 1/2 teas turmeric, 2 red onions (finely sliced), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 knob unsalted butter, 3 tbs cooking oil (for frying)

Topping – crushed toasted almonds/ flaked almonds, with Yoghurt and Cucumber (mix together with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper) and more sour cherries

Do It

Soak rice in salted water for a few hours before cooking,

In a saucepan, begin by frying off onions gently until golden in equal amounts of butter and oil (1o-15 minutes), add your garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and turmeric, stir through and heat for a minute, then add your rice and coat well, leave to warm through for 2 minutes and then add 2 1/2 cups of stock (save a little).  Bring to a boil and cover tightly, lower heat to minimum and cook for 30-35 minutes.  Brown rice takes a little longer than white.

In a large frying pan, fry off your vegetables in sets.  Have a warm plate with cover ready.  Start with peppers, aubergine and then tomato.  They will all take differing times, tomatoes only take a minute each side.  You’re looking for some charred edges, but not completely cooked, a higher heat will achieve this.  So its burnt, but not that burnt, what a great rule!

Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the cauliflower florets and leave for 10 minutes.

Lastly fry the leeks until soft and golden, then add cauliflower and all spices and heat for a minute, then take off the heat and stir in the yoghurt. and lemon zest.  Cover and set aside (you’ll need another warm plate here).

Now we’re ready to layer.  Wipe out your frying pan, begin by scattering in a generous amount of almonds, then place the tomatoes over the base.  Leave spaces between them, this is going to be the top of the cake, so make it nice!  Then add your aubergine and then pepper, then spoon on your leek mix on top of that, spread evenly.  Now fluff your rice and spread evenly over the top, press down gently to get it all nicely packed in.  Now get the pan warm again, and pour over 1/4 cup of stock and the rose water, cover with a suitably sized plate tightly and warm gently on the hob for 10 minutes to get all the flavours mingling.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes and then place your hand on the plate and invert the pan in one smooth motion (easier said than done).  A swift action is needed here so think it through!  Place on down on a work surface and tap the bottom of the pan with the base of a wooden spoon, rolling pin…….something hefty.  I leave it for a few minutes to sort itself out and settle.

When ready to serve, take off pan and you will have a lovely looking layer rice cake awaiting.

Maqluba -Lovely layers of goodness

Maqluba -with dried cherries and almonds

Serve

Warm with scattered dried sour cherries and more almonds.

We Love It!

We sure do!  This is a feast, a one pot wonder, sure beats a hot pot!  The flavours here are quite incredible and this is something very special.  A special occasion treat and the rose water adds something quite special to the Maqluba.

Foodie Fact

Rose water is used widely the cuisine of the southern Mediterranean and Iran and all the way to India, it is a magical ingredient and must be used sparingly, especially in a savoury dish.  A  little goes a long way.

Rose water is very simple to make, distill rose petal and there you have it!  It is used in cosmetics also, but I prefer putting it in desserts!  What a waste of good rose water!

In India they use rose water to clear irritations of the eye, so its versatile too!

If you’re in the UK, Yotam has a brilliant programme on 4od where he travels to variosu countries and creates some real food magic.  Check it out Yotam’s Mediterranean Feast here.

Categories: Dinner, Gluten-free, Inspiration, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin

A vegan gratin to die for. Quite a dramatic statement, but not far off the mark I can assure you. Peanuts offer some much more than just a satay sauce.  With vegan food like this, you’d never miss cheese or cream in your cooking, its just so rich and YUM.

Peanut butter, in moderation, is a wonder ingredient and adds so much flavour and richness to all that it graces. A hearty bake is perfect peanut territory and a pinch of smoked paprika, chilli and garlic and you’re well on your way to a very special oven dish of happiness.

It’s been a gorgeous day in Wales, a little chilly, but the sun has shone brightly.  We’ve been walking all day on the Llyn Peninsula, a spectacular area just south of the Beach House.  After a long day rambling around the hills, cliffs and stone age forts, we were ready for some hearty bites.  We also needed some energy (those hills are steep you know!) so reaching for the jar of peanut butter sprang to mind.

Peanuts are used all over the world in cooking and my favourite use of them has to be a Thai Papaya Salad (with roasted peanuts sprinkled on), however, many others also spring to mind.

I saw Hugh Fearnley doing something like this a while ago and felt it worth a try, I have veganised the dish though. Hugh used sweet potatoes and double cream.  I’m not a huge fan of adding lashings of cream to dishes, its a little heavy going and I find it best reserved for strawberries.

I love adding paprika to dishes and we came back from Spain heavy laden with many different varieties. Smoked paprika is so powerful and works well with the chilli and peanut here, it also turns the sauce a funky pink colour.

THE MIGHTY PEA(NUT)

It took me a while to figure this out, but a peanut is not actually a nut, it’s a pea or legume or even herb to some. Makes perfect sense really.  Although strangely, and nature can be strange, peanuts have most of the properties a nut has.

Peanut butter is one of those things that just cannot be replicated, when a spoonful is added to dishes it tends to transform and can dominate proceedings. It is packed full of energy and perfect when we are out on the hills having a wee ramble. Have you ever tried making your own Peanut Butter? Its very easy and normally much more cost efficient. Grab some organic nuts and a blender and you’re off.

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals - Llyn Peninsula, Wales

On a ramble yesterday, up the Rivals – Llyn Peninsula, Wales

Some peanut butter you can buy have sugar and other things added, we would steer away from these, the dish will be better with 100% peanut goodness and no added bits.

We didn’t have crunchy peanut butter, so you will see a few sunflower seeds making an appearance on our version.  Just to crunch things up a little.

You can substitute lime for lemon here, that sounds like a tasty change.

The Bits

The Bits

THE BITS

1 medium butternut squash, 1 courgette, 1 parsnip, 1 red onion (all sliced in 1/2 cm slices), 3 tbs crunchy peanut butter, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 3 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice), 1 teas smoked paprika, 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 chilli (finely sliced) or 1 teas chilli flakes), sea salt (to taste), 2 teas cooking oil (sunflower ideal)

Getting layered up

Getting layered up

DO IT

Chop up your veggies and gather a heavy oven dish (approx 8inch by 10inch).

Pre-heat your oven to 180oC

In a blender or using a whisk, combing the peanut butter, paprika, milk, garlic and lemon into a thick, double cream-like consistency.  The thicker, the richer, you decide!?

Oil your over dish using your mitts/ hands and begin the layering.  It goes like this:

Butternut-parsnip-courgette-add half your mix-courgette-onion-butternut-pour over the rest of your sauce.  Add a few more spoonfuls of peanut butter on top and smooth them over the squash.

Try and keep the layers neat and well-packed.  It looks and slices better.

Cover the dish and pop in the oven for 20 minutes, then take foil off and cook for a further 30 minutes or until its looking nice and crispy golden.

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Gratin (Vegan)

SERVE

Sprinkle a little more paprika over the gratin and allow to rest and cool for 5 minutes.  Then serve up with some steamed vegetables or a full flavoured salad.

WE LOVE IT!

Creamy and rich with the lovely sweetness of peanuts and the veggies.  This is full of mouthfuls to savour and bags of YUM!  We suggest a full day walking over stone age forts prior to dinner.

FOODIE FACT

Peanuts are said to originate in Central America, but are now grown and enjoyed all over the world, thanks mainly to the Spanish conquistadors (I wonder what the world’s diet would have been like without those Spanish mercenary types setting sail in search of El Dorado and all?)

Peanuts are famously rich in energy and high in protein and vitamin B.  They are also an excellent source of antioxidants (which are increased in the nut when boiled).  So a handful of peanuts a day, keeps oxidisation away!  Good to know.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

PIE!

PIE!

A fine pie with influence from Jerusalem (via the Caernarfon Library) and our local hero’s; the mighty leek (a symbol of Wales-ness and great taste), our neighbour’s eggs and the humble spud.  My friend Mandy also makes a pie not to dissimilar to this one, so its a tasty mix of all these things and more!  Surely with all that input, this pie can only be amazing!

We have been getting a few leeks out of the garden, but these are proper Welsh farm leeks (the home of the mighty leek, spiritual at least).  Great leeks are a good place to start most dishes, but especially pies.  I like to put leeks centre stage, they deserve it and should not be wasted in a stock pot.

LEGENDARY LEEKS

Legend would have it that St David (the patron saint of Wales) had the Welsh army wear leeks on their helmets to differentiate themselves from some pesky Saxon invaders.  The impact of this fashion accessory stuck and it is still worn on March 1st, St Davids day.

“MR OTTOLENGHI I PRESUME”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking style also makes an appearance here.  He is a real food superstar, most things he touches come to life with flavour and texture. I popped down to Caernarfon Library and picked up a few books, one of them being Yotam’s ‘Jerusalem‘, a fascinating place and a fascinating book. Brilliantly written and photographed, the dishes seem intrinsic to the melting pot of Jerusalem, with its many cultures in one little place. I particularly liked the ‘Herb Pie‘ recipe and immediately went about corrupting it to suit my cupboards and fridge. This little pie popped up and we’re glad it did. It is full of YUM, gorgeous richness of cheese, herbs, sweet leeks and onion

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

Lovely local spuds, getting golden

I was half asleep at the shop yesterday and bought puff pastry instead of filo, I think filo would have been better, but the puff sufficed!  I would like to think one day I will make my own puff pastry and my own filo pastry, I would also like to think one day I’ll play guitar like Neil Young and write poetry like T.S. Elliot.  Stranger things have happened!!!!!

Mandy puts Goats Cheese in her ‘Leek and Walnut Pie’, but I prefer the tang of the feta here that stands up nicely to the other flavours and has the perfect crumbly texture for this filling.

Really get your leeks, onions, potatoes etc nice and golden and sweet, this will make a great contrast with the lemon, olive and feta.  Expect a multi-cultural party in your mouth here!

CRAZY CHEESE

You can really go crazy with the cheese here and Yotam put three cheeses into his pie (he seems to put three cheeses into alot of things).  Obviously we are working on a different level to Yotam and felt that one was more than enough, with a couple of blobs of good creamy Greek yoghurt to add a creamier feel.

LITTLE TIP – LEEK CLEANING

I find the easiest way is to cut off the very tops of the green leaves and check for any dodgy looking wilted leaves.  Then chop the leek, discarding the root end and loosing the hard outer leaves, you’ll be able to feel what I mean when you do it.  Then place in standing cold water and give them a good wash.  Sieve out and double check that no grit or dirt remains.

Cleaning and chopping a leek this way allows you to get the most out of the green bit, which is packed with flavour and all to often shown the bin.

MORE BEACH HOUSE FLAVOUR HERE:

Radio Tarifa Tagine

Murcian Sweet Potato and Manchengo Burger

Kumato, Piquillo, Butter Bean and Coriander Salad

This is the tastiest pie I’ve ever made, try it!

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Makes one large pie, a dish approx. 8″ by 10″ or there abouts.  Enough for four.

The Bits

8 new potatoes (cut into small cubes), 2 large leeks, 1 red onion, 5 mushrooms (most varieties will be fine), 2 sticks celery, 2 handfuls spinach leaves, 10 pitted green olives, 3 large cloves garlic. All finely chopped.

Pie filling, looking good

Pie filling, looking good already

75g fresh dill (1 1/2 teas dried dill), 75g fresh mint (1 1/2 teas dried mint), 2 free range eggs, 150g good Greek feta, 2 tbs thick creamy yoghurt, 1 lemon zest, 1 teas honey, sea salt and plenty of cracked black pepper

1 pack of puff pastry (one roll or however you buy it).   1 tbs oil (for brushing)

Leeks, softening

Welsh Leeks, softening

Do It

Get some colour on your potatoes, in a large frying pan, add 1 tbs of your cooking oil (your choice here!) and fry off your potatoes for 10 minutes, getting some nice golden brown tints. Set aside.

The filling getting together

The filling getting together

In the same pan, add 2 teas more oil and get your onions softened, 3 minutes cooking, then add your leeks, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cook for a further 3 minutes until all is getting soft.

Then add your olives, spinach and cooked potatoes and then all your filling bits.  Stir in and warm through for 10 minutes on a low heat.  Cover and cool, now sort the pastry.

Pre-heat fan oven to 180oC

Roll out your pastry sheet to fit your pie dish, we just used a pastry lid, but you may like to add a base.  We are not huge fans of loads of pastry in a pie, the more filling the better!

Place your warm filling in the dish and spread evenly, then throw on your pie lid (delicately!) and brush the pie dish edges with oil.  Now press down around the edges with gentle force, sealing the pie.  I used my thumb, you may like to use a fork.  Trim off any excess pastry and make three slices in the centre of the pastry to release cooking steam.  Now give the pie a loving brush with some olive oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The pastry should be nicely golden and the pie filling steaming hot.

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Welsh Leek, Feta and Herb Pie

Serve

With a steamed green vegetables or a nice green leaf salad with a light, sweet dressing.  The pie has a lovely lemon-ness that will go nicely with a honey/ sweet dressing.  Its a heavy pie, flavour and texture, so keep the accompaniments light.

We Love It!

We  really do you know.  Love It!  Especially this pie, which had us both ‘Mmmmming’ in unison at its sheer deliciousness and flavour combinations.   Not your average pie and all the better for it.

Foodie Fact

Leeks are alliums, basically tall thin onions with a green head of leaves, they are used all over the world and don’t just feature in Welsh pies!  Leeks contain many vital vitamins and allicin that actually reduces cholesterol, they also contain high levels of vitamin A.

 

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegetarian, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Imam Bayildi – Turkish Stuffed Aubergines (Vegan)

Imam Bayeldi (Turkish Stuffed Subergines)

Imam Bayeldi (Turkish Stuffed Subergines)

Turkish food has always tantalised me, Ive had a few dishes that promised so much, but finding good Turkish restaurants is difficult in the UK and I have resorted to educating and cooking them myself at home.  Isn’t that always the best way anyway!  I much prefer a home cooked meal, prepared with love than something bought.  I am not a good diner out-er, I rarely have a good time and seem perpetually let down by the food.  This maybe due to the fact that I live in the sticks in Wales and in Spain, in the big cities, where cultures merge and intermingle, things are a very different story.

Thing is, I’ve always been more fond of food from further afield that Europe (is Turkey now a part of the ever expanding ‘Europe’, I hope not!?), maybe its the exotic element and imagery of new and distant horizons.  Turkish cuisine has such bold flavours and is normally pretty simple to get together, focusing on super fresh produce and a constant flow of awesome yoghurt!

A wonderful dish this ‘Imam Bayeldi’ of Turkish origin, bursting with flavour and delicious texture.  You’ve probably made something like this in the past, but its nice to get a specific origin to things, I love the heritage and tradition attached to dishes, the stories and legends behind them.

Imam Bayeldi translates as ‘the priest fainted’, according to Armenian legend, a housewife was surprised by a visit from a priest and created this dish especially (whipped it up quickly I’m sure!)  At the first mouthful the priest fainted with delight!

I have been buying a few cheap as chips cook books on-line, I’m shifting slightly away from constant experimentation in the kitchen and looking at what other people are up to.  The books I am buying are mainly retreat style cooking, Ayurveda and Macro-biotic influenced; I have some very cool Zen Buddhist cook books but this recipe (well most of it) came from the awesome ‘Shoshoni Cookbook’, which is a Yoga retreat up in the hills of Colorado.  The food is simple, vibrant and superbly nutritious.  The philosophy of cooking at Shoshoni, be ever present and immersed in your activity, constantly channeling love and good intention into your food and its preparation are essential for me in the whole wonderful food game, enjoyment!  This is food charged with positive energy, cooked from a special place.

I know there are many different ways of preparing this dish, but this is my favourite.  The aubergines are very tender after boiling and the light spices and herbs work very well together.

Aubergines can be grown in Britain, but only in greenhouses.  We are struggling getting good local produce at the moment, so our seasonal fare is sparse.  Fingers crossed this cold weather won’t hold, it’s been gloriously sunny in the days and freezing in the morning and nights.  Not good for our poor plants, but makes for beautiful days walking.

You my live in a lovely part of the world where your veggies are just plain amazing and sweet.  I would omit the honey and even the tomato puree in this case, with great produce, well, it speaks for itself and needs no assistance.

Yemek Keyfini!  Enjoy!

Serves two quite nicely.

The Bits

2 aubergine (whole), 1 onion (diced small), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 4 tomatoes (diced small), 1 red pepper (diced small), 1/2 teas ground coriander, 1 teas cumin seeds, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 teas honey, 3 tbs pine nuts, 1 cup coriander (leaves and stems), 3 tbs olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste), parsley and mint (chopped for topping)

P1190828

Aubergines/eggplants ready for the pan

Do It

Place aubergines in a pot of boiling water, press down into the water with a lid and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.  Do not overcook, they have a lovely smooth texture, but the skin is fragile and breaks easily (as I learnt the hard way!)  When cooked, run under cold water to chill quickly.

Split the aubergines down the centre lengthwise and gently score out the pulp and remove without piercing shells.  Good luck here! Keep the skins warm somewhere of your choosing, a warm covered plate works well.

Saute your cumin seeds for two minutes, they will pop a bit, then add onion and cook until translucent, add aubergine and cook for 10 minutes or until tender, add ground coriander, tom puree, pepper, garlic, honey (if needed) and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add some of your herbs (coriander, parsley or mint or a mix) and pine nuts, season well to taste.

P1190839

Serve

Fill the warm shells with vegetables and sprinkled with some more herbs and a good drizzle of amazing olive oil.  Traditionally served with Mudjedera (recipe to come soon) or cous cous.

We Love It!

A simple, tasty dish that didn’t make us faint this time, but we’ll work on it!

Foodie Fact 

Aubergines have very few calories but plenty of fibre, it contains loads of the vitamin B’s and some vitamin C.  It also has good levels of manganese which acts as an anti-oxidant around the body and plenty of potassium which is good for many of your parts! (nerves and heart especially).

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Ciambotta (Italian Butter Beans and Greens)

From the top of Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

From the top of Knicht – Snowdonia, Wales

We are just back in Wales, the home of the Beach House and arrived to a clear night and a million star welcome! Today has been fantastic, getting settled in again and unpacking the wine bought in France and Spain. We may need to build an extension to fit it all in!

After all the fussing about and sorting we decided to head to the hills, Knicht to be exact, a Himalayan looking mountain near Porthmadog. It is an impressive rocky peak and we knew we had a good day of scrambling and sharp climbs ahead. It turned out to be an awesome walk, with views of the Snowdon range and the Irish Sea. Knicht is surrounded by many small mountain lakes and we’ve made plans to return and camp up there soon. Jane and I are so lucky to live in such beautiful places. We are loving being back in Wales and of course a major part of that is the Beach House Kitchen.

We are getting re-acquainted with all of our cool kitchen stuff; spatulas, knives graters and Buster our semi-wild cat (who lives in the wood store).  We’ve been cooking up a storm with oat breads, hummus, fruit salads and lashing of proper cups of tea. Amongst this frenzy came the idea for his stew.

We fancied a change of taste, we do eat alot of spiced food and have talked of visiting Italy for an age.  We have also been eating far too much amazing cheese in France and quaffing the odd glass of vino, all in all, we feel a little jaded after two weeks or more on the road and this Ciambotta recipe heralds a step back to the food we really love; healthy, fresh, local and hearty.

This Ciambotta, I would imagine, is very un-Italian to most Italians.  But it looks very Italian in Wales I can assure you! We’re a long way from Milan! The colours and citrus of the dish, not to mention the parmesan and hint of tarragon, make for an interesting take on the traditional Ciambotta; a dish normally cooked by Italian mommas to use up spare vegetables. There is nothing spare about these vegetable though, they are all in peak condition, as they should be. Jane has been searching high and low for good produce, it’s that time of year when all that seems good are the Jerusalem Artichokes (nothing wrong with that then!)

To make this recipe more Italian, substitute the parsnip and carrot for aubergine and courgette.  But we’re back in the B.H.K and the local veg is brilliant. We’ve also missed our friend the parsnip, they are as rare as vegans is Spain!

Up close and personal - Welsh Ciambotta

Hearty, up close and personal – Welsh Ciambotta

We used Winter Greens here, they are like cabbage leaves. Kale, Savoy Cabbage and the like would also be grand. Even Spinach would be cool, anything dark green and leafy. The Greens work well because when rolled up and chopped thin, they actually resemble something like pasta (gluten-free wa-hay!)

Bon Appetito!

Makes enough for four hungry folk.

The Bits

3 cups cooked butter beans, 2 tbs good quality fruity olive oil, 1 large onion (finely sliced), 1 stick celery (finely sliced), 2 large carrots (small cubes), 2 parsnips (small cubes), 4 cloves garlic (finely sliced), 2 big handfuls of greens (whole leaves finely sliced), 1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 2 bay leaves, 1 heaped teaspoon of dried tarragon and oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 cups butter bean stock (cooking juice), 2 tbs parmesan cheese.

In the mix

In the mix

Do It

Cook off your beans with a little salt for 1 hour (bring to a boil then simmer with a lid). They should be nice and tender. Set aside, this can be done well in advance, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

On a medium heat, warm 1 tbs of oil in a heavy based frying pan and begin to sweat off your onions (5 mins), when soft add your bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsnip and garlic, stir well and cook for 3 mins, then add your dried herbs, tomatoes and greens, stir well and cook for 5 mins and then add your beans and bean juice. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 – 10 mins get it all nice and warm, the greens and veggies should be getting soft and the bean juice reducing a little.

At this stage, pop your lemon zest and juice, parmesan cheese and a glug of great olive oil into the mix, stir in and then pop a lid on and warm on lowest heat for 5 minutes.  If you need a little more sauce, just pop some bean stock in and heath through.

Beach House Ciambotta

Beach House Ciambotta

Serve

We topped ours with some fresh parsley and basil leaves and nothing else! We resisted a little more parmesan on top, but that would be lovely.  It’s quite a hearty stew, but of course being Italian-ish, a good lump of bread may be in order.  In the Beach House we love stirring yogurt into stew to add some creaminess and the Italians would love some nice chunky croutons (preferably very garlicky!)

We Love It!

The lemon does it here and the pungent parmesan. We love this take on the Italian classic Ciambotta and are glad to be back in the land of the splendid parsnip. This stew is laden with glorious veggies, just the way we like ‘em.

Jane over Knicht - Snowdonia, Wales

Foodie Fact

Parmesan cheese contains the highest levels of naturally occurring MSG in the food world. MSG is not the baddie that many think, but was only isolated recently by a nice Japanese fellow and mass produced. Most of our really tasty food contains natural MSG and if you don’t mind cheating a little (well, alot really!) just add a little to a stew and watch the compliments come rolling in.

Tunes

As always, we try and keep you abreast of Beach House tunes, now we’re back on the island (Britain) we are re-integrating with some cool youngsters Alt-J, nice beats and melodies off the ‘Awesome Wave’, here we are ‘Dissolve Me’.  Wicked!:

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Murcian Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Manchengo Burgers (with Aubergine Buns)

Happy day at the Sunday market (with backpack full of good stuff), Puerto Mazzaron, Spain

Hola from Murca, Spain!  We’ve moved here for a few months, following the sun!

It’s been a while beloved Beach Houser’s, too long, but we’re back with a bang and a massive burger treat.  The search for the tastiest veggie burger is a quest to be taken very seriously.  These are at the very least, a contender, with Aubergine for buns and a nice cheesy chilli kick.

Cracking burgers these with inspiration straight from the local markets of Puerto Mazzaron, Murica (a region known as the ‘garden of Spain’ or ‘veggie produce heaven’).  It’s not hard to be inspired in Murcia, the air smells of rosemary and herbs with tomatoes, lemons and almonds growing freely all over the place.

The local Puerto Mazzaron Sunday market is full of old time geezers and their wives selling their wares, mostly out of the backs of dilapidated jollopy type vans.  There is at least some organic produce here, but it’s never marked, we just pick the most misshapen, curly, funky looking varieties and this seems to work.  The flavours are amazing, a humble pepper can fill me with so much joy.

Mazzaron market is a real feast for the senses and like all markets in the world, I feel in my element,  free to sniff out the finest produce and really get to grips with a culture and place.  The market is the beating heart of a town, the fact they are dying out is a huge shame.  Food says alot about us and in Murcia they sell it whilst swigging cold beers, potent coffees and doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate all washed down with ham, ham and more ham.  This can only mean more veggies for us.  Buena Suerte!

We didn’t fancy any salt in these burgers, so the olives were a great local addition.  Packing loads of flavour and decent hit of salty tanginess.  The olive counter at the market is a large row of buckets with a mind boggling number of varieties.  We love the fat little green manzanilla’s, the spicy gazpacho mix and the sweet red peppery ones.  You can get olives anyway you like here, stuffed with lemon or even a whole chilli!

Jane on the mountain top behind our little casa – Isla Plana, Murcia.

Manchengo comes in various guises and I normally like the cured option, slightly saltier and harder, on the way to a pecorino.  Jane opted for the semi-cured variety this time which was a real surprise.  After munching much cheese in France, this Spanish stuff is really decent.   Semi-cured manchengo is very creamy and light, perfect for a tasty burger, adding a load of richness.  Add to that the local organic hot paprika, rosemary from the rambla (one of the dried river that runs below us) and the smells and flavours of Murcia are all here, in burger form!

Aubergine buns!?  Why not.  Tastier than bread and a healthier option.  Feel free to pop them into a proper bun if you fancy.  The only thing was, our burgers were way too big for our buns (never a bad thing), so we were forced to improvise and make it into something resembling an aubergine bruschetta.

These are burgers to crack out when you are in carnivore territory and you need something packed with flavour and filling. This is no flimsy veggie option, this is one for big eaters and lovers of rich food.  Ideal for barbecues.

We have no internet in our casa, so we hope to connect again soon, but who knows!?  Rest assured, we’ll be eating our way through the ‘garden of Spain’ and thinking of you all.  Watch this space for more BHK Espana antics.

QUE RICO!  Murcian manchengo, rosemary and sweet potato burgers

Makes four massive burgers.

The Bits

1 medium sweet potato (cut into 1cm cubes), 1 ½ cup brown lentils, 1 yellow pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1 aubergine (cut into 4 large wedges for the buns), 100g Semi-cured (curado) Manchengo (chopped fine), 20 plump green olives (mas o menos, chopped fine), 2 heaped teaspoons hot paprika (add ½ teas cayenne pepper if you don’t have hot paprika), 1 heaped teas Dijon mustard (when in Spain!), 2 teas balsamic vinegar, 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped fine), lots of cracked black pepper, your favourite oil for frying (we used a nice sunflower)

Topping – Sweet Red Piquillos (red peppers, roasted and marinated in olive oil), thin slices of good tomato.

Do It

Cover your lentils with water, 1 inch above, add 3 bay leaves and a little sea salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes until tender.  Drain well (keep the juices for soup or stew.  Yum!) and set aside.

Flavours of Spain – The Yin and Yang of manchengo and olives.

Fry off your onions and pepper on medium heat in a good glug of oil until they are nice and golden, soft and sweet.  Set aside, cover and wipe out pan with some kitchen paper.

Add your little cubes of sweet potato and cook briskly and stir well until soft and getting caremelised, 10 minutes more or less, add your garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add your onion  mix and paprika, rosemary, pepper and mustard, cook for a few minutes on a low heat then add your chopped cheese and olives.  Stir well and combine your 2 cups of cooked lentils. Set aside.

Mash it up! Burgers getting a good pasting.

Pop the oven on, 200oC.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Get a masher and give the mix a thorough mash up.  Some chunks are allowed, all adds to the texture.  Grab a baking tray, get it oiled up (use some tin foil if you prefer), form large balls of the mix in your hands, it’s going to be sticky but that’s where the fun lies!  They should be a real cupped handful per burger (you may need to lick your fingers afterwards, this is encouraged).  Drop the balls in a neat(ish) fashion onto your tray, making four large balls.

Add your 4 hefty chunks of aubergine to the tray and drizzle/coat all with some nice oil.   Your burgers need to be formed, use a spoon to push and level out your burgers, make them thick and roundish, use the curve of your hand here.  You should be left four fat half pounders.

Top with a little cracker pepper and into then into the oven for 30 minutes (check them after 20 mins).

They may blacken slightly, the sweet potatoes caramelising, this is good and will be great for the flavour.

When handling the burgers take care, you need to have good spatula skills here.  They may fall apart unless handled with love.

Serve

If your burgers fit in your aubergines (you have huge aubergines!) then make a classic burger, topped with some gorgeously piquant and sweet piquillos and a few slices of tomato.   A salad would be nice.

QUE SABOR!  Murcian Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Manchengo Burger (with Aubergine Bun)

We Love It!

Very, very tasty burgers.   The cheese inside makes them really rich and the effort put into crafting them is well worth it.  The roasted aubergines are a find, crisp and juicy, perfect with this sort of dense veggie burger.

Foodie Fact

Aubergine, Eggplant, Brinjal, whatever you want to call it, it tastes good and does you good.  Aubergine is low calorie, high fibre, full of the vitamin B’s and some Brazilian scientists have said that it can help control blood cholesterol.

Categories: Dinner, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rasta Pasta Sauce

Jane in the ‘Lemons’ kitchen

We’re down in Mazzarron, Murcia (Espana!) and having a ball, basically taking along break and getting down with the Spanish vibes (manana!).   Lack of internet means little Beach House stuff, but we are getting a little more organised, so hope to be posting a few bits in the near future.  The sun shining, the weather is sweet……yeahX

After a wander down the local fruit and veg market we headed back to the ‘Lemons’ (our little flat near the sea) along the beach full of inspiration and big bags of odd looking tomatoes. We came up with this gorgeous and simple rich-tasting pasta dish using aubergines and yellow peppers.  We called it rasta pasta, you can take it easy, whip it up in minutes and spend more time in the sun with some good tunes.

Buen Provecho, JaneX

Getting things started, Aubergine and Peppers frying up

The Bits

1tbs cooking oil, half a large aubergine (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized yellow peppers (chopped into 2cm cubes), 2 medium sized onions (chopped into 1cm cubes), 3 cloves garlic (chopped finely), 5 tomatoes, cracked black pepper, sea salt, 1tsp of mixed herbs, 1tbs balsamic vinegar, 1tsp runny honey (local por favor), fresh parsley, brown spaghetti (we liked).

Do It

Chop the aubergine into rough cubes and fry in oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and keep cooking until everything is soft and roasted and smelling good.  Put them in a bowl and cover.

In the same pan, fry the onions gently on a lower heat in a little more oil, for about 5 mins until soft. Then add the chopped garlic and cook gently so everything goes caramalised.

Chop up your tomatoes roughly, then add to the pan. We left the skins on. Pepper and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs, balsamic vinegar and honey and turn up the heat to medium. Stir everything around then cover and leave to reduce for 15 minutes until the sauce is perfectly thick and ready for the pasta.

Rasta pasta in the mix

Serve

We used brown spaghetti which was beautiful or whatever pasta you prefer.  Mix all mixed together with a little splash more olive oil making it juicy and rich. Oh and a rather decadent side salad with avocados and sprouts.

What a feast!

RASTA PASTA

We Love It!

This dish is a wonder and has virtually no fat. It proves that the need for cheese with pasta is a myth and it has all the colours of reggae! Yippeee!

Foodie Fact

Aubergines are brilliant!  Low in calories and rich in fibre, they are full of the vitamin B’s and are good for anti-oxidants.

 

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Khoresh Bademjan – Persian Aubergine Stew

The Dhaba – Spice Tray

Persian (or Iranian) food is a favourite of mine, but something I haven’t cooked for a long time.  It is similar to Indian food and the food of other areas in the Middle East; namely Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan.  Persian food is beautifully spiced and rich.  It’s roots are of course ancient and the oldest Iranian cookbook was written in 927  and was called ‘Kār-nāmeh dar bāb-e tabbākhī va sanat-e ān’ or the “Manual on cooking and its craft”.  It offers an exhaustive insight into the complexity and importance of Persian food to the people and the culture.  This amazing food tradition has been passed down through the generations, normally from mother to daughter, meaning that the dishes served in Isfahan today will not have varied greatly from the time of the ‘Kar-nameh’.  This all means that Persians take there food very seriously, authenticity is a must.  I knew I needed some help here.

Persian food is captivating, I love the emphasis on fresh produce, I have seen Iranian housewives shopping and they only accept the very freshest of ingredients.  Persian cuisine uses large amounts of fresh herbs, sometimes it seems they replace the use of vegetables!  Many of the recipes have such a deep rooted tradition, you feel like you are re-creating the dishes of the ancients, in your own kitchen.  Persian food has influenced the world of cooking, much more than we know, giving us delights such as ice cream and kebab.

The whole vast area of the Middle East has been linked throughout history; cultures mingling and merging throughout the centuries.  Iran is a very fertile land with a wonderful array of produce; pistachios, spices, dried limes, fruits, pomegranate, green herbs, the flavours of rose and saffron, all spring to mind and the colours alone get my imagination flowing.

Persia

My first taste of Persia came in a London backstreet, a place where farsi filled the air and a smiling man made fresh flat breads in a stone oven.  The food was so fresh and the flavours striking.  I started to experiment with Iranian cooking and found a whole new range of flavours and ingredients to play with.  Persian food is very traditional and each dish has set rules to follow, not something I am completely comfortable with, but the results where outstanding.  My best memories of these Iranian days were the rice (polo) cake that I made.  The sort of dish that is so easy and looks very unique, the rice takes the shape of the the pan and forms a nice golden crust.  You cut into it like a cake!  Served with a delicious Ghormeh Sabzi (Veg and Kidney Bean Stew) and you have something quite special to munch on.

Although Persian main dishes revolve around meat and rice, I have found the creative combing of ingredients can easily be related to veggie foods.  There are also many vegetarian stews, salads etc that are popular in Iran, like this Khoresh Bademjan or Aubergine Stew, which traditionally would have a lump of meat in it.

Aubergine (Egg plant to some) is a staple in Iran and is even known as the ‘potato of Iran’.  I love making stews, the gentle simmering nature, the way they fill the house with the homely smell of food.  The use of cinnamon here adds such a warming flavour to the dish and the lentils keep nice and firm, giving the stew a very hearty feel.

I know how passionate Iranians are about their food, so I felt it right to seek advice for this recipe and stumbled upon a top Iranian food blogger, Azita at Turmeric and Saffron.  Azita’s recipes are traditional and made with love and care, many handed down from her mother.  This to me is real food, cooked from the heart and a cornerstone of family life and culture.  It is surprising how many of our memories of loved ones revolve around food (or maybe that’s just me!)  I have changed the recipe slightly, but kept the flavours in tact.

Iran is such a vast and fascinating land, the dishes served will vary greatly in different regions, I’ll just have to go for a visit and try them all myself!  Hopefully you’ll see some holiday snaps on the B.H.K soon.  It’s great to be back in the Iranian cooking flow and I hope to be making much more Iranian food.

Salam and Happy CookingX

Yellow split peas

This makes a big pot ful, good enough for four hungry mouths.

The Bits

3 large aubergines (peeled, sliced into large chunks and salted, with 2 tablespoons of salt), 2 courgettes (chopped into large chunks), 4 medium tomatoes (peeled and chopped), 1 large onion (diced), 4 cloves of garlic (minced), 3/4 cup yellow split peas (cleaned and washed), 3 tablespoons oil for frying onions etc, 1/2 cup of oil for frying eggplants, 3 tbs organic tomato puree, 3-4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste, juice of 1 lime or to taste or 2-3 tablespoons sour grapes (ghooreh).

Do It

This is Persian food, meaning  a very particular way of preparing the dish.  Well worth the effort!

Place the salted aubergines in a large container filled with water; put a heavy bowl or a heavy lid on top of the eggplants to hold them down for ten minutes, this will get rid of the bitterness. Remove aubergines from container and pat dry completely before frying.

Frying Aubergine

Fry the aubergines in 1/2 cup of hot oil until brown on both sides, then add the courgette and fry until golden. Remove all from oil and place on a thick paper towel to take out the excess oil.
Using a knife, mark each tomato with a shallow X at the top, place them in a pot of boiling water for five minutes before pulling off the skin, then chop or slice them thinly or use a can of chopped tomatoes instead.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add chopped onions, saute until translucent then add the garlic, stir well. Put in turmeric, salt and pepper and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Cook until onions begin to caramelise.

Onions and spice

Add dry split peas, fry for five minutes, this would keep the peas more firm in the khoresh.  Then add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and three cups of water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for an 30 mins on medium heat.
Add the fried aubergine and courgette to the mixture, adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed.
Add the lime juice or two tablespoons of sour grapes (ghooreh).
Cook for another 15 minutes, until all is nice and tender.  Let it sit for 10 minutes off the heat, with the lid on.  This allows the stew to cool a little, flavours can be impaired by really hot food.

Persian Aubergine Stew

Serve

With steaming rice, yoghurt and a fresh salad shirazi.  This dish may also be served with sour grapes (ghooreh), which you can buy in many world food stores.

We Love It!

Jane and I can sit at our table in the Beach House, up in the clouds, and dream of exotic far off lands and ancient cultures…to the blue mosque of Isfahan and back before dessert…..traveling the world one plate at a time.  This stew is that good!

Foodie Fact

The aubergine (or brinjal or eggplant…) is native to India, this fruit comes in all shapes and sizes and is now grown around the world.  It is very low in calories and contains much soluble fibre.  The skin of aubergine is high in anti-oxidants and it is a good food to help high blood cholesterol and aids metabolism.

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Willie’s Cacao Roasted Pepper and Chilli Harrisa with Caramelised Roots

Willie’s Cacao

I loved the sound of this recipe, it really fired my inspiration.  I was excited to give it a try, the combination of bitter cacao with sweet roasted peppers sounded like a wonderful thing.  

I have just come to realise that I have the wrong cacao, I have the chocolate cacao and not the cacao cacao that is needed (that’s the 100% variety).  With no new cacao (I love that word!) on the horizon I have decided to share this with you all, without even tasting it.  I am so confident it will be amazing, I just want to pass it on and hopefully you may give it a go.

Over to Willie…………… 

“I love chillies, but I don’t like them so hot that I cannot taste anything else. So I’ve added roasted sweet red pepper to this sauce to balance the heat of the chillies. However, it is always hard to judge how hot chillies will be as they vary so much. You can reduce the heat of the chillies in this recipe by deseeding about a third of them before using or, if you want the sauce quite mild, halve the amount used. This is a great accompaniment to oily fish, lamb and pork, including sausages. You could also serve it with a Moroccan tagine.”  (Or lovely roasted roots a la Beach House.)

Makes 600ml

16 long red chillies
4 large red peppers
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
150ml extra virgin olive oil
10g Madagascan Sambirano Superior 100% cacao
1 tbsp Cacao Nib Balsamic Vinegar, or good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt

Preheat the oven to 250°C.

Roasted Peppers (theshiksa.com)

Wrap the chillies in a double layer of foil and place on a baking tray. Put the unwrapped red peppers alongside them on the same tray. Roast in the hot oven for about 25 minutes, or until the peppers are slightly blackened and soft. Allow to cool slightly, then peel and deseed the red peppers. Remove the chillies from the foil, but leave whole, just removing any stalks. Put both the chillies and peppers in a blender or food processor and whizz to make a rough purée (don’t overwork; leave a little texture). Set on one side.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until they smell fragrant. Tip them into a mortar and crush with a pestle to a coarse powder.

Place the puréed peppers and the chillies in a large saucepan, add the powdered cumin and the olive oil. Bring the mixture to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer gently until the sauce has reduced by about a half. You will find the oil separates out. Remove from the heat, add the cacao, balsamic vinegar and salt to taste and stir until well combined. Spoon the hot harissa into warm sterilized jars, allow to cool slightly, then seal. This sauce should keep for at least 3 months in a cool place.

I would serve this beautiful harissa with some oven roasted roots; sweet potato, carrots and swede would perfect.  Imagine the colours!

Original post can be found here.

We will be trying this one soon, just need to get some of that lovely cacao and we’re off into the wonderful world of savoury chocolate cooking.  

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Watermelon and Tofu Kebabs

The Bits

We don’t care if the weather is damn awful, we are having our summer!  These kebabs are pure sun food, to be eaten when it’s too hot to even consider a barbecue and all you want to do is have a massive chill (preferably in a hammock).  Serving suggestion – on a tropical beach.  They are easy on the eye, served cool and require very little effort.

Summer will not be reaching Wales this year, so we are making our own, using kebabs.  When you need to get a big fire on in mid July, you know you’re in trouble.  British people are famous for talking about the weather, well it’s no wonder, it’s a freak.

Watermelons are a fruit custom designed for summertime.  They are so thirst quenching, I like then best just at it comes and straight out of the fridge.  When living in Murcia,(+40oC in summer) Spain I used to use them as ice cubes (just cut into cubes and stick in the freezer).  We decided to add kiwi here and some amazing cucumber from the farm; purely for the colour contrast, we demanded sexy kebabs.  The not-quite-ripe kiwi also adds a nice fruity bitterness.

We marinated the tofu for a few hours in a classic style summer dressing, all basil and mint from the garden with tad of honey and lemon.  You can use goats cheese or feta and treat it in the same way.

Marinating Tofu

When you buy a watermelon, and you don’t have a family of ten, you have to get a little creative to use it all up.  We found out recently that you can actually eat the rind of the watermelon, cook it up into a stew.  Checkout our some favela cooking, Rio style.  Waste not, want not!  We bought a beastly sized thing and have been making it into soups, salads, smoothies and all sorts. This was our favourite experiment with the big pink globe.

Watermelon works surprisingly well with savoury dishes, its light sweetness blends nicely with fresh flavours, it is quite neutral really.  It certainly add colour to the plate, which is something we love in any food.

Please try these cooling kebabs in a hotter part of the world, we ate ours with our fleeces on (indoors) dreaming of swaying palm trees.  We have good imaginations, it nearly worked!

Remember your seeds.  Keep them, dry them out and roast them for a lovely little snack.  Pumpkin and watermelon seeds are delicious and very easy to collect and roast.  It seems a waste to chuck them in the bin.

Kebabs and the ‘Big Crunch’

Makes two big kebabs:

The Bits

Kebabs – 10 big chunks of watermelon (cubes), 10 chunks of firm tofu (marinated), 1 large cucumber (chopped into chunks), 1 kiwi (not quite ripe, peeled and cut in slices).  2 large skewers, we used metal.

Marinade – juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 fresh basil leaves (ripped up small), handful of fresh mint (chopped), 1 teas honey, 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/ crushed), pinch of sea salt, cracked black pepper (to taste), 1/4 cup of good olive oil.

Do It

Mix up your marinade in a bowl, toss tofu well and coat in the marinade.  Leave  covered in the fridge for a couple of hours.  When ready to serve, gather your bits and begin to make the kebabs.  Slide on your chunks in a regular order, we like the last one to be a kiwi.

Serve

Spoon over any left over marinade and serve on a nice platter/ chopping board.

We had ours with a nice ‘big crunch’ salad:

All chopped – 1 head chicory, 1 apple, 2 carrots, 1 orange pepper, 2 large mushrooms, 1 beetroot, 1 red onion(diced small), 6 large lettuce leaves, 1 handful of beetroot leaves, sprouted mung beans, golden flax seeds with our ‘Beach House Dressing‘ mixed in.  CRUNCH!

Watermelon and Tofu Kebabs

We Love It!

This is the perfect summer munch and a fine way to get rid of your excess watermelon!  One day, we will eat this in the sunshine…….

Foodie Fact

Watermelon are the ideal accompaniment to a sun scorched summers day.  They are originally from Southern Africa and are closely related to the squash.  They are full of electrolytes and of course, water.  They also contain alot of lycopene (super antioxidant) vitamin A and C and potassium.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hippy Daal

Bubbling Hippy Daal

We fancied a stew, a change to all these raw food textures.  My mind immediately stuck on my ‘Hippy Daal’.  With the beetroot and apple raita that was being chopped up, this was going to be a feast!

Hippies like daal (Dhal, Dal, Dahl however you take it), I like hippies, daal likes me……  I’ve cooked this a million times, maybe more, over camp fires and in people’s homes, in the back of jeeps and beside roads.  We eat it in the Beach House every week and every week it changes, but the heart of the dish remains the same.  Lentils and spices cooked with love, stewed until creamy.  Food that ‘clings to your ribs’ as we say.  It’s a true one pot wonder and cheap as chips.

The California Baba in Rishikesh, India

Daal is the food that keeps India ticking over, it comes in many forms, made with lentils, beans or chickpeas.  All Indians eat Daal of some description and I was told that one state had to ban Daal, because the people were eating too much of it and not getting a balanced diet.  Daal is normally a super healthy dish (unless you add loads of ghee) so these are quite drastic measures, but show the passion for the dish in India.  A land fuelled on daal.

Cooking daal is so simple and I’ve made it even simpler.  I have cut out the steps of frying the onions and spices etc and fast forwarded straight to whacking it all in the pan and bubbling the stew until it becomes thick and gooey.  It saves on washing up at least.  This is a basic recipe and is wide open to bits being added and spices thrown in.

Daal in India is always made in pressure cookers, as are most curries.  Anybody who has travelled around India will be familiar with the sound of your dinner hissing away in the kitchen, regularly reaching a kind of hissing climax that sounds like an imminent explosion.  It can be quite therapeutic, knowing that food is one the way and the potential of a hot chapatti just tops things off.  Chai mileaga!

I like all lentils and yes, some people do call me a hippy, not always because of this though.  Yellow lentils keep their shape, but also break down a little to form that lovely creaminess.  You can experiment until your heart is content with this one.

You cannot be shy with your spices here, they must be added with gusto and happiness.  Remember to take care of your spices, they are sensitive to light and the air.  Keep in a cupboard in an air tight container preferably, for long term, keep in the fridge.  I still have my stash of spices brought back from my favourite little spice market in Mumbai.  They have retained their potency.

Because this post relates to Indian cuisine, I must mention Kolpona Cuisine, the best place to go online for India recipes.  I love the way that Desi Chick cooks, plenty of oil and spices, and bold, bold flavours.

The garam masala here adds a nice bit of spice, I like the touch of cinnamon and cloves.  Really, you can use any India spice here and it will still turn out fine.  You can substitute all of the spices for the same amount of your favourite curry powder if you liked.

Daal keeps brilliantly, just add a little water to loosen it up again when re-heating.  I server my daal quite thick, but in India its normally halfway to a soup (or a full on soup depending on the quality of the restaurant you’re eating in).  I like it nice and thick though.  In fact, the best Indian food I have ever eaten has been in the U.K.  In Leicester and London in particular, we are blessed to have such a culturally diverse nation, it certainly means some interesting food.

The best Indian restaurant in Britain is the Jungle Club in Leicester.  Eating there is the complete Indian experience on these shores.  It’s such a colourful place, decorated like a jungle, with monkeys and tigers all over the place.  There is also a kids play area and a working mans club attached, just to add to the spice!

Strangely in the north east of England, where my family all hail from, we have a dish not disimialr to Daal.  Lentils cooked in stock, cooled to form a thick paste.  Its called ‘Peas Pudding’ and we traditionally spread it on sandwiches with ham and beetroot and plenty of butter.  The bread we use is a soft doughy white loaf called ‘Stottie Cake‘ which is very similar to the ubiquitous round load of Morocco.  Small world eh!  ‘Stott’ means bounce in Geordie (a dialect in this little corner of the world) and the bread is so dense, it bounces when dropped.  The north east of England was a mainly coal mining area and the food there was designed to fill up the miners for the hard labour they carried out 6 or 7 days per week miles below the surface.

This method produces a great daal, although not traditional in anyway.  Its carefree cooking, lentils are very forgiving, just let it bubble nicely and you know, dinner is on the way.  This daal is a meal in itself.

Makes one big panful:

Hippy Daal – Ready for a mix

The Bits

2 cups of yellow split lentils (any lentils will do really, soaked overnight in filtered water), 1 big onion (chopped into small pieces), some root veg (we used one large potato, and half a swede and 1 carrot, also using parsnips, sweet potato etc would all be grand.  Chopped into small chunks).

2 inch piece of ginger (finely chopped), 4 cloves garlic (mashed/ finely chopped), 4 bashed cardamom pods, 2 teas garam masala, 1 teas cumin seeds, 1 teas ground coriander, 1 teas turmeric, 1/2 teas chilli powder, 2 teas flax seeds (good for the belly), 2 teas curry leaves, sea salt to taste

I added two teaspoons of tamarind pulp to give it a nice fruity edge (optional).

Do It

Rinse you lentils well and cover in a large, heavy bottomed pan, with an inch and a half of water (more water can be added if needed throughout the cooking).  Bring steadily to a boil and then add all you veg, ginger and garlic.  Lower heat to a fast simmer and cook for 5 minutes, then add all of your spices and stir well, bubble gently for around 20 minutes, add some more water if needed, then cover and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring when you are in the area.  Check that you stir the base of the pan and no daal burns on the bottom.  Easy as that.

Hippy Daal with Beetroot and Apple Raita

Serve

We’ve had it cold in sandwiches before, now we eat it with salads and some Beetroot and Apple Raita, you can thin it down into a soup…cook it down and make lentil fritters…use it as a dip, the list goes on.

We like to stir in some more richness, we use yoghurt (soya or whatever you preference), ghee (authentic and delicious) or just a little good oil.  The last two will give a nice shine to the daal.

Foodie Fact

Lentils are packed with protein, a good source (of many) for a veggie diet.  Daal contains a protein content of around 25%, similar to meat and is very low in fat but high in carbohydrates.  It is also high in vitamin B and iron.

Ready to munch!

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Summer Chili (Raw)

Summer Chilli

“The aroma of good chili should generate rapture akin to a lover’s kiss.”
Motto of the Chili Appreciation Society International

It is chilly here!  But not in the good way, we thought we’d flip that and add a spicy chili to get some heat back into our sleepy Welsh village.  I know I keep on going on about the weather, but it is a bit of an issue.  We need the sun!

Chili is the epitome of soul food and I love the heated variety in all its forms, it was probably one of the first things I became passionate about cooking.

Chili is a dish that originated in the south of America, probably Texas and they are mighty proud of their dish down there.  I wonder what they would think of this, beef-less/chilled version.  I think I’d probably have to leave the state.

Chili originated, like most good soul food, in poorer homes and was made by scraping together ingredients that were available.  This raw chili was made with a similar sentiment, but we just happen to have loads of veggies and raw food bits.  The principal is the same.  Make do and make very tasty.

There are so many options to play with here if you are not raw.  I would definitely like to see some sweetcorn in here somewhere, but it needs cooking.

This raw food is addictive, in the sense that when you eat cooked food, you feel quite rubbish.  Your belly complains (swollen and windy) and your energy levels are low.  You become very sensitive to foods and this isn’t a bad thing, but it can be a challenge when travelling and socialising.  You can come across as some kind of nutter!  It has certainly made us more aware about what we are putting into our bodies and who our real friends are!

This sauce can be warmed up and poured over roasted veggies, which sounds delicious!  The beauty of these raw things, are their simplicity.  Whack it all in a blender and you’re off, leave it in the fridge and heat it later.  A very easy dinner and something a little different.  If you heat it to just over warm (seems to be a decent enough gauge) you will not kill all the good stuff either.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the raw cookbook, ‘Live Raw by Mimi Kirk’ and a mighty vibrant read it is.

The Bits

Sauce – 1 cup of sun dried tomatoes (soaked for two hours to make tender), 2 cups of tomatoes (chopped and organic), 1/2 cup of carrots (chopped), 1 sweet yellow pepper, 1 small chilli (check the heat  there), 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 tbs tamari (or soya sauce for non-rawers), 1 tbs of each evoo (e.v. olive oil), apple cider vinegar (white wine vinegar will do), agave syrup (or sugar) and chilli powder, then 1 teas cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, fresh cracked pepper, 1 handful of chopped coriander leaves.

Chunky Bits – 1 cup sprouts (mung beans, aduki beans, or green lentils something nice and fat, we mixed them up a little), 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 sweet potato, 1 courgette, 1 sweet red pepper, handful of chopped mushrooms

Do It

Chop all of your chunky bits into funky shapes, set aside in a big bowl.

Add all sauce ingredients to a blender and whizz away until smooth.

Pour sauce over base (we were a little stingy with ours, it should look more like a stew really) and mix together.  Ideally, leave in the fridge for a while to let the flavours get together.

Rare blue skies –  salvaging some of our plants after another summer storm

Serve 

We would normally have an avocado on this, but had none.  Next time.  This would be great with some corn bread or tortillas (if you have a dehydrator handy) and would also be amazing with sour cream (raw cashew cream is very good indeed) and of course, loads of cheese and coriander.

We Love It!

Just the spice and fuel we needed in our lives this windy, wet summer.

Foodie Fact

It’s a fruit!   A gift from the Mayans and Aztecs, native to Central America and then shipped around the world by those dodgy conquistador types.  Tomatoes are low in fat and cholesterol and are full of good things.  They contain lycopene, that is a super antioxidant that protects your cells and also your skin (from the sun).   They are also rich in vitamin A and C and have great levels of potassium.  When picking tomatoes to eat, the redder the better.

Categories: Dinner, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Indo Coco Curry (Raw)

One bright day in June (the bright day in June), our picnic spot, above Beddgelert

So the raw food lifestyle is continuing in the Beach House, this is a good sign.  We have been feeling good and loving experimenting with raw foods, so we are rolling on raw well into July.

Our aim is to eat a lot of raw food, but soon start cooking again.  I cook alot at work, but its not the food that excites me, it seems a strange idea getting the pots and pans out again at home.  The oven, instead of the food processor.  I’m sure it will happen gradually and at the right time.  I still haven’t drank a coffee or any wine, again, it just seems like a strange thing to get back into now.  Those of you who have been on a raw diet will know how I feel.

It has been an atrocious June for weather, we’ve had a fire on most nights and the rain and wind has lashed down on our poor little seedlings.  Even with this wintery weather,  Jane and I have been perfectly happy with salads and cold food.  I think a full raw food diet (ps – when I say diet here, its not like a weight loss diet, just what we are eating) in winter is a possibility, whereas before I would have not considered it.  No hot soups!

One spoonful of this curry and we both exclaimed “This is the best yet!” Which is always a nice thing to hear about something.  This coconut curry has a lovely sweetness, the smooth richness of the creamed coconut and the gentle warming hint of garam masala.

We have not been eating a great deal of spice of late, the raw diet it not overtly anything really (bar amazingly healthy food). This dish added so much needed spice back to our lives.

I think this curry is a real winner this summertime. Raw food is, of course, perfect for a sunny day (which are rare in these parts, but hopefully on their way).  Summer is the ideal time to dabble with raw food and this Coco Curry would make an interesting salad to serve as a side dish at a barbecue or take for a picnic to a beauty spot.  It keeps well and is nice and quick to get together.

If you’re not a raw one, this will go very nicely with something like a cold rice salad.  You can even heat it up!  The flavours will still be amazing.  It can be thinned down for a lovely soup (just add a little stock or water)  and used as it is for a dipping and spreading.

The original inspiration comes from the brilliant British raw food book “Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Hill, but I have dabbled with the recipe to bring it more into line with our taste.  That means more spice, more garlic, more ginger……..we like a big and bold flavour in the BHK.

Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for rice in the raw food world.  You just need to chop it up very finely, or stick it in a food processor, and it resembles rice but without the stodge factor.

The serving here is enough for four strapping individuals.  Jane and I saved some for lunch the next day.

The salad base, as you can see, we like ours chunky!

The Bits

Sauce – 1/2 tin of organic coconut milk, 1/2 a big avocado, 4 dates (pitted), 4 tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1 medium onion, 2 tbsp tamari (or soya sauce), 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tbsp turmeric, 1/2 red chilli, 1 inch cube of ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 150ml water.

Salad/ Filling – 3 tbsp raisins, 2 handfuls of green lentil sprouts, 1/2 handful of chopped coriander (with a little saved for topping), 2 handfuls of spinach, 2 sticks celery (finely chopped), 1 carrots (finely chopped), 1/2 cauliflower (finely chopped), 1 handful of mangetout, 1/2 butternut squash (chopped into little cubes), the rest of your avocado.

The Coco curry pre-mix

Do It

Salad – We use a food processor, because it is so easy.  You lose the individuality of hand chopping, but it saves alot of time, especially when you’re eating raw foods and most of your days could be spent peeling and chopping veggies.  Most of these contraptions have a chopping and grating blade as standard that can come in very handy.  However on this occasion we hand chopped, just to be awkward!

So, put carrots, celery and cauliflower in food processor.  Chop up your butternut squash and avocado into small chunks and mix all of these with the other ingredients in nice big bowl.

Sauce – Chop all vegetables into manageable chunks for your food processor.  Ginger, garlic and chilli should be finely chopped.  Put it all into the food processor and give it a whirl.  Make sure you hold the lid down firmly to begin with, if its a small one like ours, it tends to jump around a little.

Indo Coco Curry (Raw)

Serve

Sprinkle on left over coriander, raisins and grated coconut (dessicated coconut is fine).  We ran out of coriander and forgot the coconut!  It would look grand though, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

We rarely have time for presentation touches as we are such scoffers!  In the bowl, quick pic then get stuck in!  Tends to be the order of eating affairs in the Beach House.

You could try it with some cauliflower rice (see above), it makes for an interesting change.

Foodie Fact

You may have heard that coconut is full of fat, well it is, but they are great fats!  Avocado, nuts, seeds etc do contain a high proportion of fats, but they do not harm your body like the fats in processed foods or donuts!

The fat in coconut does not raise your cholesterol levels like saturated fats in animal products.   It is actually the most health-giving oil available, you can buy coconut oil for cooking.  The make up of the fats is similar to mothers milk, the lauric acid (a fatty acid in mother’s milk) has antibacterial qualities.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vibrant Gigglebean Stew (Raw)

Raw Vibrant Chickpea Stew

This may be the healthiest dish we have ever eaten.  I can only see stew this doing wonderful things for us and it tastes amazing (always a bonus).

I love the name ‘gigglebeans’, it’s is what Jane’s friend Alex calls chickpeas (or garbanzos, they have so many names!)  What ever we choose to call them, they are fine legume and a welcome addition to raw June at the Beach House.

We had tried previously to soak and sprout chickpeas.  I don’t think we have the heat here.  It has been a very strange season this year, our plants are not sure whether its winter or summer.  I know the feeling!  This may have affected the chickpea sprouts, as they don’t seem to like sprouting, they just swell up.  After soaking the chicks for 12 hours, we have discovered that they are delicious, even without a sprout.  It has been a revelation.  Nothing adds bite and vitality to a salad like a crunchy chickpea, jam packed full of nutrition and protein, they are a real gift from nature.  They are just like nuts, without the fats.

I am always compelled to add the flavours of India or North Africa/Middle East to a chickpea.  It just seems correct.  I have restrained myself this time as I am having a few days detox before raw June ends.  I feel quite amazing!  I have never been a fan of the word detox, but I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve dropped nuts and oils (fats in general) from what I eat and my energy levels have gone through the roof.  You wouldn’t imagine that, but it is true.  I went for a jog last night and I felt positively turbo charged.  I’m not sure if it is wise as a long term diet, but who knows.  I feel magic now.

This raw stew came together from the idea for a dressing.  It is definitely more of a stew, mainly due to the lack of leaves and the quantity of dressing.  The dressing itself can be used on most vegetables and you can add some olive oil and salt, if you are not having fun experimenting with the raw things.

In future I may add some fresh herbs to the dressing, a handful of mint of basil would be delicious.  But as I said, I’m trying to restrain myself at the moment and keep things relatively simple for the palate.

The combination of texture and colours here are a real feast for the senses, the flavours are light and understated, with the odd kick of chilli to liven things up.  Using apple cider vinegar here adds a nice tang to the dish. Overall a salad fit for any table and certainly fit for any body.

This will make a big bowl of salad, leftovers will get better in the fridge when left for a little marinate.

The Bits

We use the food processor for the grating

Stew – 1 cup grated swede, 1/2 cup chopped mangetout, 1 sweet potato (chopped), 2 cups sprouted (swollen) chickpeas, 1 cup grated courgette.

Dressing – 2 cloves garlic (one more if you are a garlic fiend), 1 inch of grated root ginger, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 apple, flesh of 1 orange, 1/2 cucumber, 1 red chilli (of your choice, be careful with the heat!), 2 tbs olive oil (optional), pinch of sea salt (optional)

Do It

Cover the chickpeas well with water, they will swell up to more than double their original size.  Leave for 12 hours then drain.  You can eat them now if you like, if you would prefer them softer, add more water and leave for a further 12 hours.

Dressing – Add all dressing ingredients to a food processor and blitz up well.  Stew – Arrange/mix the salad and dressing in a big bowl.

Serve

For the final, super healthy boost, top with a generous handful of sprouts (mung bean or green lentil would be great).

We Love It!

After eating this salad, we felt our bellies sing!  Such a vibrant thing and full of only goodness.  The chickpeas really fill you up and you are left with a deeply sated feeling after this, no need for dessert or nibbles between meals.

Foodie Fact

Chillis are originally from Central America and are such a mainstay of Mexican food.  I remember eating raw chillis with my ‘Huevos Rancheros’ most mornings there.  My body seemed to get used to their potent effects.

Spanish and Portugese explorers (conquistadors) were originally responsible for making the chilli a hit on the world stage.   Chillis are well reknowned for their medicinal and health benefits.

Chillis contain an impressive number of plant based compounds that help to prevent disease and promote health.  The spice in chilli, a compound named capsaicin, is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic and lowers cholesterol levels.   Chillis are also rich in vitamin C, A and Beta-carotene, these help us counter the effects of free radicals created when the body is under stress or disease.

Chilli heat is measured by ‘Scotville Heat Units’.  Your average sweet pepper will get a 0,  tabasco sauce rates at 2,ooo-5,000, a mexican habanero weighs in at 200,000-500,00, but the hottest chilli in the world is the Naga Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Pepper) rating at a whopping 1,041,427.  Not surprisingly, the NBJ has been used in manufacturing weapons, being placed in hand grenades and pepper spray!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Detox, Dinner, Dressings, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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