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

Vegan-ity hits the UK!

I’m not a massive newspaper reader, but whilst visiting my sisters gaff in Whistable for some festive frivolity, I chanced upon a well known British broadsheet and dove in.  Surprisingly unearthing two separate articles about veganism, prompting me to believe the hype; vegan-ity is really hitting this little island cluster.

It’s been in the pipe line for a while, but now the celebs are on board and we all know what  that means…….  The first vegan supermarket is opening in 2015 and generally the tofu tide is shifting.  People are eating more plants which can only be a good thing.  I even learnt that Mike Tyson is a vegan, primarily due to the fact that Roman Gladiators ate a vegan diet.  Ferocious and animal friendly makes for an interesting combination.

Veganism is more than a passing dietary trend and I like to see it as a new type of food experience, like the recent trends for Southern Mediterranean cuisine or the rise of Peruvian nibbles, vegan food is just another wonderful way of treating food.  It doesn’t have to be drastic, pedantic or serious; it is fun, naturally healthy and easy to prepare and source.  Most people already eat alot of vegan food and don’t even know it!  Being a vegan normally means that you care about the welfare of animals, your personal health and that of the environment, but it can also just mean very interesting food prepared in creative ways.

Vegans make up less than 1% of the British population, but most folk are realising the benefits that vegan food can bring to any diet and going ‘plant-based’ for a meal/ day or week, can have a massive effect on health and well being.  It is surely the ultimate low bad fat/ cholesterol diet.

I’m thinking about starting a tofu helpline, aimed at spreading the good word of curd and offering survival tips to first time tofu tamperers (in a word, MADINADE, the rest is easy, quick and delicious).  This may ease the integration slightly.

Veganism has been around since 1944, or the moniker has at least.  The movement was started by a chap named Donald Watson who set up the British Vegan Society.  Only recently has the name be officially recognised.  Vegan-ity now has legal status in the UK.  Its taking root and establishing credibility.

Vegans no longer necessarily worship mung beans and wear scratchy kaftan’s as standard (although that is very cool by me!!!).  I hope Veganism is shedding these dodgy, out dated, misconceptions; with more focus being placed on the benefits of the diet and the glorious flavour’s of the food.  Badly cooked vegan food, prepared without passion or knowledge is just like any other badly cooked food, prepared without passion or knowledge.  Pants!  Once the good word of V spreads, the general standards will improve, just like vegetarianism in recent times.   Great food is simply great food; even minus a chunk of meat, or a poached egg on top.

Tastes change and veganism uses flavours and textures in new and inspirational ways.  Proper cooks love a new challenge and I imagine veganism as that new challenge.  I see vegan food as something vital and fresh, ever changing and evolving.  Food for us all to enjoy.

We are just about to leave for our Delhi bound flight, wishing you all a brilliant start to the new yearX  The Beach House Kitchen is on the road until April…..expect a few holiday snaps soonX

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

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Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.

We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work.  Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos.  Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious.  It’s floppy leaf territory.

Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results.  Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge.  Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……

I think  my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

The Bits – For 2

1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)

Do It

Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.

Hands off!!!!!!!

Hands off!!!!!!!

Serve

We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon.  It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).

We Love It!

Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants.  It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins.  Coriander  has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

Goodbye Buster (The Worlds Coolest Cat) and Big Hello from Spain!

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Buster (aka, Buzzy, Buzz-man, Buzzeroonie, Buzz face, Raja, Buzzer, Buzzoid, Buzzeroo, Busty, Little Tiger………and other pet names) has left the building. He is the most wonderful little guy, but we are now in Puerto Mazzaron, Spain and soon to be in India for an extended period and we couldn’t find a way of keeping him close.

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We managed to find a brilliant home for the Buzzman in the next valley, real animal lovers.  The first night he went to his new home, he made his way back over the mountains at night and turned up at the back door, a little peckish.  He must have used the stars as a map to make his way across the streams and hills, its around 5 miles away.  What a little grey star he is!

Just looking at our recent lack of posts makes us very ashamed of our behaviour. We miss the posts but have been busy with other exciting projects, more about these very soon…….  We have been cooking shiny food all the time and have a huge backlog of photographs and recipes to post, we just need a little time and internet access (which always helps!)

Much Love from us and have a magical festive timeXXXXXX

 

Categories: 'The Good Life' | Tags: , , , , ,

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

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On the funghi hunt, lost and wandering up the Nantlle Valley, we’ve had magic weather even in October.

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Pleasant views abound – from the Nantlle Ridge (behind our back garden)

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The man with a sock on his head – harvesting our potato crop. Smaller potatoes this year but more of them.

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Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

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A small tree in our garden suddenly started to sprout apples. It’s an apple tree!!!!! Wahee. Lucky us, this is part of the windfall apple bonanza.

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We’ve had so much sun this year even the sunflowers had a growth spurt.

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Part of our winter preparations, HEAT! Scavenged logs meet Mr Chainsaw = cosy nights by the fire. Time consuming, but free.

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We’ve had some gorgeous beetroots this year, three varities and all of them awesome and sweet.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.  Then POW tofu inspiration strikes!

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A Great Beach House Bake Off!

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Love CoconutsX

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Your Gracious HostsXXXXXXXXX  At Jane’s parents gaff

So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', Photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sage Nutri Juicer – Juicer Extraordinaire! A BHK Product Review

Sage Nutri Juicer

Sage Nutri Juicer

We have the distinct pleasure of giving a Sage Nutri Juicer a new home.  As regular BHK readers will know, Jane and I are partial to a morning juice.  Actually, without it we feel a little under nourished and lack the incredible zing! that a fresh juice gives you in your waking hours.  We had researched juicers and made up a shortlist, Sage where somewhere close to the top and definitely offer awesome value for money.  So when one arrived on our doorstep, delivered by the juice crane we presume, we unpacked it with joy and then things got really juicy!

Juicing is so very good for us its almost outrageous.  We find that a glass of good juice in the morning sates us until lunchtime at least.  We also feel cleansed and energised by the whole process.  Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced to good effect and this means that juicing is seasonal.  We find that broccoli for example makes a wonderful juice and the stalk even tastes a little like egg (which is more appetising than it may sound!).  We are also experimenting with recipes to utilise the pulp, normally discarded in the juicing process.  Nothing is wasted!

You cannot beat a fresh juice, preferably with organic fruit and veg when possible.  Please do not be fooled by processed juices or even worse, juices from concentrate.  Many of these popular juice brands are just vehicles for added sugar to enter your diet and we don’t need any more of that.  Fresh juices can also be high in sugar and it is worth balancing high sugar fruits and veg with lower sugar varieties, greens are a perfect example of this and bursting with nutrients and flavour.  They also make your juice look very cool indeed.

One more word on juicing and we’ll get on with our review.  Juices can be high in acid, that may, over a period of time, damage teeth.  Its worth bearing in mind.  Maybe brush your teeth after your morning juice (using non-flouride toothpaste por favor).

Our last juicer died in a dramatic flaming fashion, possibly due to one too many beetroots!  We think it was a little under powered and couldn’t really handle the hard stuff, root veg and all.  The Sage has no problems on this front, when you start it up, it sounds like an out-board motor and the high setting (there are two settings, high and low) cuts through hard vegetables like carrots like a knife through cashew butter.  We are also very impressed with the amount of juice extracted, the pulp is very dry and even on high setting (think helicopter taking off on your work surface!) the extraction of juice is brilliant.

The Nutri Juicer is easy to assemble and take apart and relatively simple to wash up (the bug bear of many a non-committal juicer).  The actual juice basket is as sharp as you’d imagine (like an uber grater), so taking care when washing it is important.  Sage have provided a great little scrubbing brush for this purpose. There are a few parts that come apart with ease and fit together with the help of a reassuring metal fitting.  It has a very solid feel when in use and is well balanced, no leaning or buzzing off around the work surface like some other juicers.  The discarded pulp flies out of the juicer into a purpose built bucket, which when lined with a compostible bag, makes for very easy disposal in the compost bin, no scraping or blocked sinks here.

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The Nutri Juicer comes equipped with its own jug, which even acts as a measuring jug for the pedantic juicer or doubles up around the kitchen when baking etc.  As mentioned, the Sage is a powerful little contraption and this means that the juice comes out at a rate of knots, so the lid and rubber pouring spout are a must.  There is nothing worse that walls covered with fine drops of beetroot juice!  This power also means that the juice gets nicely whipped up and when extracted into the jug has a decent head on it.  We like to swill this around and combine it with the juice, but if you leave the lid on when pouring the juice, it will separate the froth from the liquid.

A large chute on a juicer is essential and the circular chute on this machine is perfect.  We have not found an apple that will not fit in there whole.  This juicer will take care of whole apples without breaking sweat.  Even if you are having a particularly hectic juice morning and the Sage overheats, it has a safety device which means that it will cut off and can then be used after 15 minutes of cooling down.

Mid juice - see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

Mid juice – see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

This Sage is a centrifugal juicer and we had originally thought about a masticating juicer, which is alot slower and really squeezes the life force out of things (which we then drink!)  They are generally more costly and there are only a handful of companies who make them, most based in the U.S.  This means added shipping miles and cost to the equation.  In the future, we’d love to try and ‘masticator’ but have been pleasantly surprised by the Nutri Juicer performance.  One criticism of a centrifugal juicer is that it heats the juice and kills some of the enzymes and goodness, but Sage have got around that with some very clever design.

The Nutri Juicer is a real looker, with a shiny metallic finish and simple design, it sits nicely on the kitchen surface.  Heston Blumenthal is involved with these guys and he seems to be a man who knows his way around a quality gadget.  The Sage juicers were also used in the documentary ‘Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead’, I haven’t seen it, but people in a bad way use juice to help them get fit and healthy.  I can see why they chose Sage, it is a well-priced juicer with brilliant overall performance.

Sage Nutri Juicer - Quite a looker!

Sage Nutri Juicer – Quite a looker!

For reference, we have a BJE410UK.

Juice, glorious juice.

Juice, glorious juice.

Beetroot, Apple, Ginger and Lemon Juice

Makes 2 glasses of purple morning sunshine

1 large beetroot, 3 carrots, 4 small apples, 2 inch cube of fresh ginger, 1/2 lemon (juice only)

Scrub your veggies, do not peel.  Cut the very ends off your veggies, they can get stuck in the juicer.  Ensure no soil or woody stems get into the juicer.

Get your juicer up to speed, higher setting is best as these are quite hard veggies.

Add ginger, beetroot, carrots and apple in that order.  Most flavourful and colourful to least seems to extract more flavour and colour.  Makes sense!

Squeeze your lemon juice separate and stir in at the end.

Ready to juice

Ready to juice

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Juices | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A 10 Minute Meal – Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussels Sprout

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth - On the hob

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth – Bubblin’ away

Here we have a delicious 10 minute meal.  5 minutes chopping, 5 minutes cooking and it won’t last long in the bowl either.  So simple, yet tastes so amazing and dare I say it, complex.  You have to love that!

Nothing says British winter more than a bowl of Soba Noodle Broth….or is that just me!  I love a noodle broth anytime of the year and this one is wonder, putting the years first brussels sprout to good use.  I could eat this by the bucket full, bowls just aren’t big enough.

The first winter chills are definitely visiting the Snowdonia hills at the moment, the winds blows a gale and we’ve kissed goodbye to what was a lovely summer of warmth and light nights.  Sitting in the garden at 10pm in the sun is surely a thing all Britons cherish.

The Beautiful Nantlle Valley - just behind the Beach House Kitchen

A view from the beautiful Nantlle Valley – just behind the Beach House Kitchen, where we walk when not eating like Tokyo-ites

As are brussels sprouts.  They’re like little cabbage hand grenades and add a punch to all they grace, we love ‘em! So, so, so very wasted on your average Sunday Roast (traditional British Sunday Lunch containing roast meats and unfortunately over cooked vegetables), boiled to death and flaccid. A quick blanch in this broth and they are a revelation of crunchy texture and potent flavour.

This is an ‘Asian’ broth, which I know covers a large chunk of global cuisine.  Its a hybrid of flavours that meld and work.  Some Japanese, some Chinese, but all super tasty.

In the Beach House we condone slurping in all its forms.  Food should be eaten with gusto and vigour, slurping is an essential part of the noodle broth experience.  We like to attack a bowl of noodle broth armed with a large spoon and some chopsticks, on occasion we resemble koi carp, such is our commitment to the cause.  Jane is a particularly good slurper, we put it down to being raised with a koi carp named bonehead.  Bonehead still lives with Jane’s Mum and Dad and is a big fish in a small pond.  He can also be stroked like a dog.

Jane, is that you?!  Koi carp – like jaws in a pond

This type of broth is best served piping hot, with all ingredients cooked for the minimum length of time.  Freshness and crunch is imperative.  The gulping and slurping actually helps the noodles cool down on the way to the mouth.  At least that’s our excuse!  It also happens to be alot of fun.

We’ve added plenty of colour here, essential in these gradually greying months, by using the last of the years red peppers and some brazen red cabbage. This broth is also nice and warming, fresh ginger and Chinese five spice take care of this.  For even more of a restorative slurp, I added some wasabi to mine which really got my juices flowing.

SOBA NOODLES

Soba noodles are always a highlight, soba meaning ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese, the noodle choice of most Tokyo-ites.  Traditionally in Japan buckwheat can be harvested four times a year, a wonder crop for sure.

Soba Noodles have a lovely bite to them, a hearty noodle ideal for my rapidly diminishing wheat intake as they are made with a large amount of buckwheat (not a wheat even though it is called a wheat!?) This means less gluten all around. For some bizarre reason, soba noodles are normally a tad more expensive than your average joe noodle, but they’re well worth the extra pennies.

Soba Noodles

We use tamari because we prefer the flavour, it contains no wheat and is always made to a certain standard. Meaning no strangeness and dodgy health issues with the soya used.

There are alot of ingredients in the broth here, really, some good stock, ginger and a splash of tamari will suffice, the other ingredients just make it extra special. Most of them can be found in any decent Chinese-style food store.

As can the Hazelnut Tofu.  It’s basically tofu mixed with hazelnuts, and a few toasted sesame seeds, pressed back together.  It is delicious and has plenty of flavour, unlike normal tofu.  It seems to be springing up in some supermarkets, but as with most of these niche veggie/ vegan bits, a health food shop is your best bet.

Makes two massive bowlfuls (or four medium sized):

The Bits
300g soba noodles, 125g hazelnut tofu (chopped into little cubes), 1/4 red cabbage (finely shredded), 1 red pepper (finely chopped), 6 brussel sprouts (finely sliced lengthways)

For the broth – 1 inch fresh ginger (minced), 2 teas chinkiang vinegar (balsamic will do), 2 tbs tamari (soya sauce is a close sub), 1 tbs rice wine (or dry sherry), 1 tbs good stock powder (or fresh if you are brilliant) – to taste, 1/2 teas Chinese five spice, 1.5 ltr boiling water

Taste the stock, make it right for you.

Wasabi stirred in to taste (if you like things spicy)

Topping – 2 spring onions (finely sliced)

Do It

Boil a kettle with enough water.

Chop your vegetables thinly.

Add boiled water to a large, warm sauce pan and get a steady boil going.  Bubblin’.

Add all of your stock ingredients in no particular order, give it a stir (no stock powder lumps, they are the enemy).

Now add your cabbage, brussels sprout and peppers, boil for two minutes, then add your tofu and noodles, simmer for a further two-three minutes and prepare to serve.

By the time you’ve got bowls and ladles and all that jazz together, your noodles should be cooked nicely.  Overcooking soba noodles is a huge sin.

Serve
Piping hot and topped with a handful of sliced spring onions.  If you have a small flask of warm sake available, well done!  Have extra tamari, wasabi and vinegar on the table so people can play with the flavouring or their stock.

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts – Camera in one hand, large spoon in another…….

We Love It!

Soul slurping of the highest order and buckwheat noodles to boot.  Lucky us.  So quick and satisfying, we could eat this for dinner every night!  A soulful soup of the highest order.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is high in Thiamine and soba noodles were regularly eaten by wealthy  Japanese folk to balance their large intake of white rice (very low thaimine) thus avoiding what was called ‘beri beri’.

As we all know by now, buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb!  A berry and not a grain, a wonderful gluten-free substitute.  Buckwheat is full of flavanoids which are very good for the cardiovascular system.  In fact, some folk say  that buckwheat is better for you than any fruit or vegetable.  Quite a claim!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude's Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Gertrude’s Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

A quick one here that goes out to the Tasmania crew, Fran and Steve of The Road to Serendipity fame.  Fran has requested Gertrude’s (Jane’s Nan) recipe ever since seeing it on a previous post.  Well Fran, here it is, better late than later.  Soz…….

Just to rave about Fran and Steve for a moment, their blog is a massive slice of living off grid (with two cool dogs Bezial and the mighty Earl and bags of awesome looking food, nature, ideas, good livin’, love and plenty of peaceful vibrations).  They really are shining examples of living close to nature and Tasmania looks incredibly beautiful judging by their photos.  There can be few more dedicated and prolific bloggers than our Fran and we always appreciate her enthused feedback.  It is people like Fran who keep this little old blog rocking!  Cheers guys for your constant stream of inspiration and kindness.  You make the blog world a brighter place to be.

This recipe is taken from a scrap of paper written by Gertrude, who is no longer with us.  Gertrude lived to the ripe old age of 96 and dictated this recipe as Jane made it and Keith (Jane’s Dad) scribbled it all down word for word, quaint little sayings and all.  Goodness knows how many times this cake was made, Jane was brought up on it.  All of this means that this is a recipe we hold very dear and even closer to our hearts.  It also makes a lovely light chocolate cake and is ever so easy to make.

This will make one small sandwich cake, double the mix for a big ‘un.

The Bits

4oz margarine (good stuff), 4oz caster sugar, 1/2 teas vanilla essence, 2 eggs (beaten), 4 oz self raising flour (sieved), 1 heaped tbs cocoa (sieved), pinch salt, 1 teas milk (if needed)

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC (360F)

In a mixing bowl, paste the margarine and caster sugar together with a wooden spoon.

Slowly add the eggs to the paste, stirring nicely.

Gently add the the flour and cocoa, fold into mix.

Add salt and milk if mixture is too dry, should be thick batter texture (that plops off a spoon).

Pour into two small round baking tins (6 inch) with marg rubbed on sides and bottom.  Use baking parchment if you don’t trust the non-stickness of your tin.

Clean out bowl with finger, give to Jane.

Get Nan to smooth it over.

Slam tins on table twice each.

Place in oven, 2/3 the way up.

Check in 1/4 hour with a wooden chopstick or skewer.  It should be clean when retracted.

Serve

We filled our with a fine dark cherry jam and grated dark chocolate on top. Although I hear Gertrude was quite partial to a little butter icing.

We Love It!

‘Cause Gertrude made it.

Foodie Fact

Eating cake makes you happy.

 

Categories: Baking, Budget, Cakes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 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

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Harira on the hob

Harira on the hob

We regularly have an identity crisis with dishes, turning traditional fare on its head, ‘Beach House-ing’ things you could say.  We don’t mean it, no offence to the original recipes and food heritage in question, its just we like to play in the kitchen.  Here’s another traditional recipe we have messed about with, thankfully the results were rather delicious.

The best Harira I have ever had was for breakfast (regularly) in the village of Chefchaeoun, known to many a traveller for its exceptional soup, jalaba (hooded cloak garment worn by most Moroccans) production and wonderful mountain location.  Its small winding streets hide many a wonderful eating experience, rows of blue houses (yes blue!) make this one of the most distinctive and stunning villages in that vast old place.

I moved there for a while, took up residence in a room situated on the walls of the Hamam (the communal bath), the warmest room in town.  You see its high up there (in more ways than one!) and you wake chilled to the bone and needing a serious bowl of sustenance.  Abdullah provided.

He was a wonderful cook, in nothing more than a space between two buildings, a few squat tables and two gas burners with huge steel pots, Abdullah created the authentic Moroccan dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was like a French Bistro without the pretense and price tag.  My kind of joint for sure.

For a few pennies, Abdullah would dip his oversized laddle into a pot of bubbling Harira and dish you up an epic bowl of full-on morning ammunition, sometimes with a tooth-less smile that shifted the early morning fug.  This hearty soup fuelled me on many a hike around the Rif Mountains and also on days spent lounging around playing card games with other punks holed up there. It came with a wedge of steaming flat bread, olive oil and a bowl of spices to use liberally.  I sat wearing my Jalaba (ever the over bearing tourist that I am) eating with the local men in silence, canteen style.  This kind of experience is what gets my food based juices really flowing.

Chefchaouen

I like cooking soups, its a soulful pursuit.  You don’t have to be to precious, there are rules, but not many, a little like Morocco itself.  This is the situation where I revel.  Add less water here for a nice stew.

Here’s to you Abdullah.  Peace be with you.  Hamdullah!

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Makes one small pan full (enough for 3-4 bowls)

The Bits

1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (cooked), 3/4 litre fresh water (or chickpea cookign juices, even better), 1 tbs vegetable oil, 1 inch fresh ginger (finely diced), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 onions (finely diced), 1 yellow pepper (diced), 3 ripe tomatoes (with flavour), 3 cups chopped rainbow chard (stems separated from the leaves), 1 teas ground turmeric, 1 teas smoked paprika, large pinch finely ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1/2 teas cumin seeds, 2tbs tomato paste
1 lemon, 1 tbs flour (of your choice), 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves (leaves picked, stems chopped), 1 cup red lentils, 3 dates (finely chopped), 1 teas fresh ground pepper, 2 – 3 teas sea salt

Add just  2 cups of water to make this a hearty stew.

As with all soups/ stews, depending on the quality of your veggies, you many need to add some vegetable stock to the final soup if the flavour thin on the ground.

Harira bubblin' away

Harira bubblin’ away

Do It

Soak your chickpeas overnight in a saucepan.  Drain and refresh with new water, well covered.  Add 1/4 teas bicarb of soda (this makes them soft and cook quicker), bring to a boil and lower heat.  Vigorously simmer for 20 minutes or until chickpeas are just tender.  Remember they will be cooked more in the soup. Keep the cooking liquor for use in the soup, it has a wonderfully full flavour.

Warm the oil in a thick bottomed sauce pan, add your onions, cumin seeds and caraway seeds and saute the onions for a few minutes until glassy, add garlic, pepper and ginger, stir for a couple of minutes and then add all chard stems (add earlier if they are a little tough) and spices, warm through for a minute and now add your tomatoes, dates, lentils, tomato paste, warm through for a minute then add your water/ chickpea juice. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down heat to the lowest setting, add your chickpeas and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring back to just about boiling, add your chard leaves and coriander stems.  Re-cover and allow to cook for a few minutes.

Serve

A lemon wedge, a good glug of good olive oil with green olives and brown rice, if you’d like to make this dinner.

For a special touch, we have it sprinkled with roasted and chopped almonds.

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

We Love It!

With winter lurking up the hill, we are getting back to our hearty soups.  Harira is definately one of our fav’s and it is very cool when you have pleasant memories attached to a dish.  Food has amazing transporting properties, the sights and tastes so evocative and alive in memories.

Foodie Fact

Spices are much more than just incredible tasting, the vast majority boast some quite brilliant health properties (as long as we don’t burn them in the pan).

Turmeric is a root similar to ginger and in its raw state has very potent flavour, its wonderful stuff.  Dried is the best we can normally do on this island.  It is peppery and sweet, warm and bitter and has even been likened to orange peel (if very fresh indeed).

Now the nitty gritty and real magic.  Turmeric is anti-microbial, anti-flatulent and strongly anti-bacterial.

Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

The corn invasion is ON

The corn invasion is ON

The corn has come and it’s come in droves. I love corn, fresh corn on the cob is one of the finest things imaginable and it plays the lead role in this super salad supported admirably by some ripe Mexican avocado and fresh basil leaves (from the garden).

Back in the day (mid to late 80′s for the record) nothing said summer more than fresh corn on the cob; boiled almost to death and lathered with butter (maybe margarine, times were tough).  I remember the sweetness and laughing at everyone with corn in their teeth and realising that you were just as bad.  It’s all part of the fun, yellow teeth.

CORNY CORN

This superbly fresh corn can be eaten raw, I have been told that is not a good idea but this stuff is so succulent and juicy it is hard to resist.  Thankfully some made it to the pan on this occasion.

Anyone who has ventured to the lands of Latin America will know there way around an ear of corn or maize as it is known.  Corn is in many things, cakes, breads and of course, straight up roasted on braziers in the streets, which is the finest way to go.  Maize comes in all shapes and sizes and has been eaten for thousands of years, it was the main fuel for the Mayans, Aztecs etc…..  Maize even comes in different colours, you can get purple, black, blue, red and our personal favourite, pink.  Interestingly, all of the differing colours have their own unique health benefits.

Autumn is gradually fading to winter and the bounty of the last few weeks is subsiding, the last summer squashes are disappearing (too fast) and even the blackberries are off (blown by some pretty freaky storm action).  The time of the roots is nigh, but we still have a few treats up our sleeve before we get to the stodge-fest of winter.

We’ve incorporated a few more of our local veggie bits in here, but cannot resist a bit of avocado, it always ups the luxury stakes.  Some vegan creaminess to add to the carnival of crunch.

This is a simple salad, but magic combinations abound and the luxurious flavour is something to savour.  The basil adds its usual glorious fragrance to the show.  The lovely thing about a warm salad is the flavours are all THERE!  BANG…….

Serve as a main course, or bulk it up with grains like spelt or bulghur.

The Bits
Serves two
2 corn on the cobs (kernels removed), 1 avocado (2 if you’re feeling decadent), 2 small tomatoes, 1 small courgette, 2 handfuls of basil leaves, juice of 1/2 lemon, drizzle of olive oil, decent pinch sea salt and cracked pepper

Do It
Remove your kernels from the cob, stand up straight on a chopping board (thicker end down) and run a sharp knife down the cob, as close as you can to the base of the kernels. Use quick, sawing actions and the little yellow critters will just fly off.

Chop your courgette, tomato and avocado into similar sized cubes.

Warm a frying pan and some oil, fry off your courgette and corn on a high heat until slightly charred. Leave to cool.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and add your corn and courgette, mix gently with your hands getting it all nicely combined.  You will now get wafts of glorious basil filling the air, mixed with that roast corn-ness!

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Serve

Big bowl, scattered with abandon and flair (and a pinch of cracked black pepper).

We Love It!

An abundance of avocado and the beautiful sweetness of fresh, seasonal corn. This is a very satisfying salad.

Foodie Fact

Corn is not exactly a nutrient powerhouse unfortunately, but it is classed as a grain and therefore gets many brownie points.  When compared to other grains it has good levels of fibre, vitamin C and the B’s.  It is also low in calories if that’s your way.

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Roast Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Categories: Gluten-free, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Brazil Nut and Cacao Pancakes with Papaya Sauce and Berries

P1210790

A truly awesome start to any day, this just happened to be a Sunday.   This is a low-rise cake, with aspirations to one day be a pancake.

Brazil nuts, berries, papaya, this is a decadent affair.  Its the kind of thing you’d imagine the old Maharajas to be munching on in palaces on the Gangetic Plains.  What Im trying to say is that this is decadent in the extreme and packed full of nutrition.  I find normal fat pancakes, american style, a little on the heavy side.  These Brazil Nut beauties have all the flavour without the post breakfast sag.

They can be made raw with a dehydrator, but we forgot to put ours on the night before, so we baked them like a cake in the oven and they turned out very well indeed.

The papaya is a real treat, making quite a change to all the apples and blackberries we have been eating at this time of year.  What can I say, I am weak when it comes to papaya.  They are one of my favourite things for breakfast.  Even though the papayas that take the long flight over here are a little jaded and solid, I never tire of that unique flavour.  I also love the seeds, they  look like frog spawn.

THE BEAUTY OF BRAZILS!

Brazil nuts (or cream nuts) are always handled with great care in our kitchen.  They seem impossibly hard to harvest and grow, so when I get hold of some, I reserve them for the best occasions and finest of company.  When blended, they are so fatty, they resemble butter.  Brazil Nut butter is the only thing that can compare with ‘real’ butter for creaminess and outrageous fattiness, only the fat here is not all saturated and of course, all plant based.

Brazil nut trees are mighty things, some of the highest and oldest trees in the Amazon region, growing to nearly 50 metres tall!  Imagine climbing that to get to the nuts!  Each one of these massive trees will only yield around 300 brazil nut pods per year and take at least 14 months to mature.

I am a little dodgy with gluten it seems, it makes my eczema go wild.  Ground brazil nuts, like almonds, make a perfect substitute for flour and are much more nutritious.  Brazil nut oil is also a wonder thing, great for massages and cooking.  As if that wasn’t enough goodness for one nut, see the nutritional content in the Foodie Fact below.

The Beach House Kitchen has been as busy as ever, but you’d never guess it by the number of posts of late.  Below are some of our cacao/ chocolate-style creations for the month.  We’ve had friends and family visiting, so cakes have definitely been on the agenda.  We really should type more, we’re just too busy cooking and eating!

Pancake time!

The Bits

Pancakes - 2 bananas, 1 1/2 cup brazil nuts, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or normal cocoa if you like), 1 cup flax seed meal, 2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas bicarb of soda, 1 cup water

Sauce – 1 small papaya, 1 small orange, 1 tbsp runny honey

Finish with chopped bananas and berries (we used raspberries and blueberries) and a few chopped brazil nuts (we used almonds bizarrely).

Do It

Preheat an oven to 200oC

In a food processor, add your brazil nut and pulse them until broken down, but still a little chunky.  Almost to the texture of ground almonds, but not quite.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except the water, blend together and add the water a little a time.  You are looking for a thick, double cream like texture, a little thicker than a normal pancake.

Pour into a well oiled, circular spring form pan and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.  It will rise nicely into a low-rise cake of sorts, but still in the realm of pancake.

Whilst this is occuring, wipe out your FP and place all sauce ingredients in.  Blend until smooth.  Thats that.

Chop up and wash your toppings ready for action.

Serve

In slices, drizzled with the sauce and festooned with topping galore.  What a treat for those weary Sunday mornings when the loss of Saturday just seems too much.

If you are hungry and feeling extravagant (even more so!) then you can stack these pancakes into some form of wonder tower, layered with the toppings and sauce.

We Love It!

Dessert for breakfast is something we wholeheartedly condone in these parts.  ‘Nuff said.

Foodie Fact 

Brazil nuts are such a gift.  Individually wrapped, hanging from a beautiful fruit.  Originally a delicious source of protein for the people of the Amazon, now enjoyed by us all, they are fatty, rich and packed full of nutrients.

Being so buttery, Brazil nuts are high in calories and fats.  The great news is that a large portion of these fats are mono-unsaturated, making them good for the heart and preventing strokes.

Brazil nuts also boast great levels of Vitamin E (good for the cells) and Selenium (they are the highest natural source of this mineral).  Selenium works with anti-oxidant enzymes to keep cancer, coronary disease and cirrhosis at bay.

Brazil nuts are also good for the vitamin B’s and are full of minerals like copper and magnesium.

Here’s what else has been hitting the ovens recently:

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Baked Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Hazelnut Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Kiwi and Tahini Custard Tart with Cacao and Cashew Base

Jane's Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

Jane’s Double Chocolate Cake filled with Dark Cherry Jam

If you’d like any of these recipes, just let us know.

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 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

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake with Fig and Poppy Base (Raw/Vegan/Gluten-Free) + The Best Way To Wash Your Veggies

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake with Fig and Poppy Seed Base (Raw/ Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Please don’t be put off by the sound of tofu in a dessert, it is a truly wonderful addition.  Vegans wouldn’t get very far without it!!!!  Tofu has a bad rep, this cake will change it all…..Tofu is a real hero and if bought organic, is a nutritional wonder to boot with a smooth as silk texture.

It really is amazing what you can do with a blender.  This is a light, refreshing take on a cheesecake, only frozen and with the added interest of being made with tofu.  It takes minutes to prepare and sits happily in the freezer.  This has to be one of the healthiest desserts we’ve made at the BHK with bags of strawberries and only a small amount of figs in the base.

Raw desserts are amazing, but some hide huge quantities of sugar, normally in the form of dried fruits (primarily dates).  It is natural sugar, but it is still sugar.  This dessert is lower in sugar than most, the strawberries go a long way to sweetening the cake.  Raw desserts are not always healthier than other desserts, its worth bearing in mind.

Silken tofu is a vegan staple for dessert, baking and all sort of textural fun.  Tofu is high in protein and is a wonderful vehicle for flavours, of course by itself it is bland, its like a blank canvas for a creative cook.  We have used it in cakes to substitute eggs and it does an admirable job.

The base of this cake goes all seedy.  We have found that going raw can cost alot more, a main contributor is nuts.  You can get through alot of them, especially when making desserts.  Instead of flour, you use cashews.  In fact, many of our staples ie rice, cous cous, pasta etc go out of the window on raw and are replaced by fruit and veg.  Certainly not a bad thing for the body, but it can hit you in the wallet/ purse/ piggy bank.  Seeds are the answer and almost equally as flavourful.  For a crunch base like this, they are perfect.  We have also been making butters with them and they are just as tasty as their nutty compadres.  Go seed!

8 REASONS TO LOVE STRAWBERRIES (EVEN MORE)

-  Big C, very big C.  Super packed with Vitamin C (8 strawbs =150% rda)

-  High in fibre (meaning that even though they are beautifully sweet, they have a low GI index)

-  Member of the rose family (how romantic!)

-  Virtually fat free (for those who think that matters. Fat doesn’t make you fat, to be covered in a later post.  Fat is actually very cool.)

-  Full of manganese=great for bones and growth.

-  They fight the big C (Cancer) with something called anthocyanin.

-  Some scientists have said that strawberries are actually anti-aging.

-  Super high in the vitamin B’s, which help metabolism.

Beauty Strawbssss!

Beauty Strawbssss!

CLEANING YOUR FRUIT AND VEG

We’d always recommend that you give strawberries a good wash.  They can attract all sorts of wonderful creep crawlies and dusty dirt.  Here are some top tips for cleaning fruit and vegetables, especially those bought in supermarkets (i.e. not particularly fresh and probably covered with chemicals and pesticides)  This makes a HUGE difference:

This cake is not made with an ice cream maker, so expect a few ice crystals if eaten frozen.  We find it best semi-thawed.  Take it out the freezer an hour before serving and it should soften up nicely.

Makes one large tart, enough for six slices.

The Bits

Topping: 1 punnet strawberries, 1 box silken tofu (350g), 2 tablespoons of sweetener of choice (we used a cane sugar syrup), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup of soaked cashews

Base: 1 cup of dried figs (soaked), ½ cup ground flaxseeds, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Fresh from the freezer

Fresh from the freezer

Do It

Easy as pie (cake)!

Put all the filling bits in a blender and blend so that you get a thick double cream texture.

Put all the base ingredients into a blender and blend so you get a sticky clumpy mixture that can be rolled into balls.  This will take a few goes, make sure you scrape down the side to incorporate the chunks.

Press the base into a 9” dish circular tart dish lined with cling film.  Pour in the filling and pop in the freezer.  We decided to make two small fat ones, so we could eat one who cake between the two of us.  Some call this greed, we call this the good life!!!!!

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Tofu Ice Cream Cake

Serve

Take it out of the freezer before service and it will have a soft scoop ice cream feel with a nice crunchy base.  You will no doubt have some strawberries or other berries lurking around your fruit bowl, this cake is great with them.

We Love It!

The closest we’ve come to a really healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy (you know what we mean here).  This is the perfect summer cooler and has a nice richness even though dairy has not entered the building.

Foodie Fact

(Yawn)  Where do you get your protein in a vegan diet? (Yawn again)  The question on the tip of most carnivores tongue could be simply answered with TOFU.   Tofu is an amazing plant based source of protein and is now readily available in most parts of the world.  It has no cholesterol, is low in fat and contains a similar amount of protein to dairy and meat.  Firm tofu is also high in calcium.  As I mentioned above, just make sure it’s organic and not GMO.

Categories: Cakes, Desserts, Gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta (Gluten-free)

Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta (Vegan/ Gluten Free)

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado Lemon Ricotta, Red Bean and Walnut with Tomato and Basil Sauce (Vegan/ Gluten Free)

This is one of those dishes that really stands out.  A dish that just makes perfect sense and falls into place perfectly on the plate and palate.  All those yummy layers, one on top of another.

Meat eaters beware!  This is a ‘converter’, one fork-full and you’ll join the lighter side.  A dish that dis spells the ludicrous myths that vegetarians are merely ‘rabbit food’ munchers.

We have found vegan raw food presents a simple equation:

Raw Vegan Food = Shiny and Zinging Life of the Highest Order + Awesome, Creative New Flavours and Combinations

Granted its not the simplest of equations, but its a fine one non-the-less!  This dish is full, full, full of delicious flavour, nutrition and vegetarian protein power (see top 5 veggie sources of protein here).

Jane was typing whilst I made this and here is what I said about it, hot off the press:

“So good for you and tasty, I can see this stuff really catching on!  I see this as the future of food.  Its a simple as that.  Pasta without the carbs, supercharged full of colour and nutrition, all the flavours of Italy.  Fascinating combination of flavours only ever seen in vegan cooking, using all whole foods, nothing jarred – this is what we are going for in the BHK.”

Reading this back again, I completely agree with what my former self uttered.  This is the future of cooking (and non-cooking).  We all want the best for ourselves and raw vegan food gives us just that.  This is a trend that is actually positive for mind and body.  Can you imagine how much the National Health Service would save if we all decided to eat vegan raw food, or incorporate more of it into our diets.  We’d all live to 150 and hardly ever darken the door of a hospital or doctor.  We believe that nutrition and the food we eat is that important.  Call it preventative medicine if you will, but taking care of yourself and eating amazing food doesn’t sound like too bad a deal.  No compromise on taste either, just look at this wonder plate!

Semi-rant over for now, back to the recipe.  Its not totally raw this one, but could be very easily.  Because Raw Earth Month has now officially ended (yes we are using the odd light at night and the occasional square of chocolate is disappearing from the cupboard) cooked beans have re-entered our diets.  How I missed them.  I love a bean.  Without even thinking, I added red kidney beans to the ‘meat’ layer of our lasagne.  They are perfect colour wise and they add a great texture.  I also love them with walnuts, no idea why?

We are lucky to have a raft of inspirational friends and the original idea for this lasagne comes from the sparkling Sava over at Travel Butterfly.  Sava is a constant source of inspiration on many levels for us at the Beach House and some of her vegan/ raw recipes really hit the wonder mark.

This lasagne, and lasagne in general, has a few components to sort, it takes a little time.  Its well worth it though and would definitely be classed as a special occasion dish.  This dish has the whiff of wow factor about it, one that looks almost as good as it tastes (after all, food that looks better than it tastes is such a let down).  I am always interested to find that most people who don’t cook much still know how to make a decent lasagne.  Its quite a tricky and time consuming thing to get together, especially the art of a non-lumpy bechamel.  I generally think people are alot better at cooking than they claim to be!

Raw Vegan Lasage

Raw Vegan Lasagne

Good tomatoes here are essential.  We had some in our veg box this week and they blew us away, when I tried the sauce, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t added a sweetener to it.  That’s it reaction you need!  Gorgeous tomatoes are hard to find.  Some tomatoes just need a little love, leave them in a bowl, ripen them just like a fruit and sometimes they come good, at the very least, they will get better.  A chilled tomato is just no good.  There is a soup we made a little like this, found here.

If you are completely raw, we’d probably substitute the beans with more seeds and nuts.  Maybe a little dried apricot to bind things together.   I am sure you have your own ideas, as being a raw vegan really pushes your creativity to the limits.  We know how it is.

We use amino acids of tamari here because most soya sauce is just no good.  Soya is a funny thing and unless processed properly, can be of detriment to the body.  Tamari and something like Braggs Liquid Amino Acids are perfect replacements and tamari especially, even tastes finer.

We top this all off with some Nutritional Yeast Flakes.  I know we all don’t have them in the cupboard, but they are brilliant little flakes to add an almost cheesiness to dishes.  They have a unique savoury taste that must be tried to appreciate and are a vegan lifesaver.  For me, they are little like a vegan parmesan.  That intense!

A few other raw recipes that may tickle your tastebuds:

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup

Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing

Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake

Hazelnut and Lentil Hummus

 

Now, lets non-cook!

 

The Bits

Tomato and Basil Sauce
3 cups plum cherry toms, 1 cup soaked sundried toms (finely chopped) with ¼ cup of oil from the jar), 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 clove crushed garlic (crushed)

Bean and Walnut Layer
250g red kidney beans (cooked) or 1 tin-ish, 1 cup of walnuts, ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (add bite), 2 x teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (or tamari), Pinch of salt and pepper

Pasta Layers
1 gold courgette, 1 green courgette (or two green is fine)
Cut in half width-ways and finely sliced into layers

Avocado and Lemon Ricotta
1 ripe avocado (must be ripe), 250g firm tofu (drained well, save a few thin slices for the topping), 2 tbls olive oil, ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes, 1 small clove garlic (crushed), ½ lemon juice and zest, pinch of salt

Topping
Thinly sliced tofu, olives (finely chopped), sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Do It

This raw game is an easy one.  Just whack it in the food processor and voila!  Gorgeous Lasagne.

Tomato and Basil Sauce – Pop all in a FP and whizz until smooth.  Set aside and clean blender.

Bean Walnut Layer – Pop all in a FP and blitz until smooth but with lots of chunks (similar to mince I guess).  Set aside and clean blender.

Avocado and Lemon Ricotta – Pop all in a FP, blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Pop all in the fridge for an hour to chill and thicken up a little before the layering.

Raw Lasgane ready for stacking

Raw Lasgane ready for stacking

Make sure that you slice you courgette/ zucchini carefully.  You want them to be almost as thin as pasta sheets.  A mandolin is perfect for this, but a big beware here!  They love to slice fingers also.

Now to layer the beast.

On your chosen serving plate (a square one would be perfect), lay out your first layer of courgette. Depending on your chopping skills, you may need to put two layers of courgette (if wafer thin style).  Carefully spread on your bean and walnut layer and a thin layer of the tomato and basil sauce.

Next, add another layer of courgette, slightly smaller in diameter than the first, pressing down gently to make the layer stick.  This is mainly a presentation thing, you can see the layers better when they are not overhanging each other.  Once the layer is neatly placed, spread on your vegan ricotta.

First layer underway

First layer underway

The final layer, once more press down gently and arrange a nicely overlapping mosaic of your wonderfully sliced courgette, top with a layer of tofu (which can’t help but look a little like mozzarella), a good layer of tomato and basil sauce, sprinkle on your chopped olives and a good sprinkle of yeast flakes.  Top with some basil that you will no doubt have hanging around your glorious kitchen.

That’s it!  As simple or as difficult as you make it!  We think its medium in the ‘fiddle scale’.

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta - A taste explosion waiting to happen.

Raw Vegan Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta – A taste explosion waiting to happen.

Serve

Immediately.  The salt will gradually release liquids in the lasagne, which are very tasty, but don’t look the best.  This lasagne can be sliced as usual and the layers will stay intact and look amazing.

We Love It!

A dish in the locker that will impress friends and family for many years and make us look very clever indeed when actually its leisurely walk in the park.

The flavours mingle and merge in some form of Italian perfection and you will be amazed at the reaction from meat-eaters.  Try it!  They love it too!

Foodie Fact

Courgette (zucchini to some) is a summer squash, they are said to have originated in Mexico and come in all shapes and sizes.   Courgettes are very low in calories and have no cholesterol or fat, the peel is full of dietary fibre and it is also a good source of vitamin A and has high levels of heart friendly potassium.

Jane's been making dollies out of wheat again.  This is Trevor.

Jane’s been making dollies out of wheat again. This is Wild Johnny.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Special Occasion, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

World’s Best Kitchen Implement – Skrub’a Gloves!

Jane happily skrubbing!

Jane happily skrubbing!

A very lovely friend from Germany sent us the most fantastic present the other day, the like of which we have never seen before on Welsh shores! Introducing Skrub’a The Scrubbingglove  – a clever Danish invention in a pretty orange carrot design!

These wonder-gloves could not have come at more perfect timing (another wonderful synchronicity, thanks Nicole). You probably know that we are now lucky enough to be loving the weekly fresh local and organic veggie box grown by lovely Pippa and John down the road…. Such delicious, fresh and DIRTY veggies! Up until now the lowly washing up brush has been doing all the hard scrubbing work. But we find that still leaves little bits of dirt on the veggies, especially in the nobbles and bumps.

gloves

gloves

It was with delight and happy intrepidation that we donned the gloves for the first time, dunked the root veg and began skrub-ing them with our gloved hands. The gloves (very much like those exfoliating shower-mitts) were utterly perfect at getting into the grooves and pits of the most twisty of carrot.

It was a quick and unusually satisfying job, and at the end of it we had smiley faces and very clean beetroots. Not only that, but 50% of the vitamins in veggies are in the peel! So Skrub’a Gloves thank you very much, you are our new favourite kitchen implement!

Categories: 'The Good Life' | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar – Health Tonic Extraordinaire!

delicious minty vinegar

delicious minty vinegar

It has been a luscious blossoming blooming year for gardeners across the land. Much sunlight and only occasional rain has kept most of the slug and snail critters at bay, hoorah! And over in Staffordshire, Mum and dad’s apple mint went wild again, and started springing up everywhere in places most unexpected. We were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to harvest the lot, bring it back to the Beach House Kitchen and get creative.

When faced with huge armfuls of thick 3ft long mint stems, it is easy to find yourself wondering what on earth you’re going to do with the bounty of furry goodness there in front of you! But luckily there are many ways to preserve herbs – in oils, vinegars, dried in jars; and many uses for the finished product like salad dressings, flavouring for your cooking, teas and delightful herbal baths! Lets face it a whole shelf of different herbal vinegars is pure visual delight – and that’s before you’ve even eaten any!

yummy mint, fresh and dried

yummy mint, fresh and dried

The Bits

Glass or plastic jar with waxed paper and elastic band for lid if metal (vinegar disintegrates metal lids)

Apple cider vinegar with the mother culture (great for your digestive system)

Aromatic herbs, such as apple mint (or all the other kinds of mint too), chives and chive blossom, dandelion flowers and leaves, organic orange peel, lavender flowers, even nettles…. The list goes on…

Do it

Fill a jar with your freshly cut chopped herbs, making sure the jar is well filled but not packed too tightly either… (After a few goes you’ll get the idea, I don’t think I put enough in ours)!

Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full.

Cover jar with wax paper held on with a rubber band and metal lid on top, or a plastic lid, or a cork.

Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date.

Put the jar in a kitchen cupboard not too hot and not too cold but out of direct sunlight and leave for 6 weeks.

Don’t forget it’s there!

Serve

Over salads or beans and grains at dinner, in salad dressings, or to season stir fries and soups.

You can even drink it in the morning in a glass of water as a health tonic, after all what could be more healthy than your own produce soaked in apple cider vinegar!

We love it

There’s a lovely aspect of this creative process too and it’s all about the love and appreciation of food that has come out of your own soil. The very act of stripping the leaves from the stem, drying them, and getting creative all feels like a very natural and heart-warming process; one which our ancestors would have done too, to preserve that nourishing goodness of Summer ready for darker Wintery times. And it is SO good for you! Daily use of preserved herbs gives you a little health boost with virtually no expense or effort.

Foodie fact

Herbs are magic because of the high level of nutrients they contain – mint for example contains a lot of Calcium.

Apple cider vinegar has been known as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates swore by it, along with honey. It is incredible at lowering cholesterol, improving skin tone, and even for arthritis. It is also very good at dissolving nutrients from plants which water is not so good at, meaning this vinegar is super-healthy and mineral rich.

Ever seen your granny splash some vinegar onto her greens before serving? Eaten with iron rich vegetables like spinach or broccoli, vinegar can increase the amount of calcium you get by a third. Pretty amazing stuff!

Vinegar is highly alkaline, I know that sounds strange, but when it is metabolised by the body, it goes through a serious change.  Alkaline foods are incredible for health and keep disease and other baddies at bay.

minty spiral

minty spiral

Categories: Foraging, Infusions, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

North Indian Feast – Baingan Bhantha and Gobi Tikka

Bengan Bhargha and Gobi Tikka

Baingan Bhantha and Gobi Tikka

Our first cooked meal in what seems like and age, for no other reason than Ravi Shankar and memories of warm chapattis in Varanasi. Thats all we need and we’re back in the land of spice and wonder. Mother India, her food tantalises our palates and senses.

I was spending some time with brother Justin over at ‘The Lotus and Artichoke‘ blog.  He is a man I trust highly with India food. He lives and breathes (and no doubt dreams) food and travel, a man after our own hearts. He has a book for sale and its awesome, we don’t have it, but one day we will. This is a man who has learnt to cook in real kitchens, real houses with real families, the proper way to go about understanding different cultures foods.  These recipes are influenced by his and our shared love for India grub.

We dusted the pans off and said goodbye to our raw food time in style, what better way than a North Indian Banquet to remember.  North Indian food is generally richer than food from the south, which is more coconut based.  I like both, they are so different and suit their climates and geography perfectly.  India is such a vast and diverse land, but these curries use spice mixtures that you will find all over and like all masalas (spice mixes), the balance is essential to the authenticity.

These two curry recipes are straight forward, but very rewarding.  I became semi-addicted/ partially obsessed with Baingan (Bengan) Bhartha in Laos of all places!  I was missing Indian food on my travels and I found a Gujarati fellow tucked away in Luang Prabang who made a mean curry, it did take well over an hour to arrive, but when it was well worth the wait. I loved the place, when we order beers and curries, one of his kids would jump on a scooter and buy the ingredients from the market.  It was super fresh veg and herbs!!!!!  And warm beer unfortunately.

Baingan Bhartha is normally a puree like curry/ dip served with chapatti, but I love it with rice also.  Its actually a little like an Indian Babaganoush.  I like to keep the aubergine in pieces and pan fry them until golden and just about falling apart.  Traditionally I believe they are oven baked whole and the insides sccoped out or flame charred over an open flame.  It all sounds good to me.

RAW EARTH MONTH – THE CLOSING CEREMONY

So we didn’t end it all in a tidal wave of cava or a wave of espresso’s, this month’s (six weeks actually) raw adventure came to an end with a curry and plenty of rooibos chai.

Raw Earth Month has actually been really enjoyable, all of the ‘sacrifices’ we’ve made have turned into enjoyable routines and good lessons.  We certainly appreciate things more; lights at night, a washing machine, the joys of good chocolate.

We are not rushing back into anything and getting our bodies adjusted slowly.  After the meal last night, we admit to feeling a little full and lethargic.  We did eat alot, but cooked food definitely sits on the stomach.  As we always say, it doesn’t really matter what you’re eating, as long as its cooked and eaten with love and last night was a lovely occasion.

So coffee and wine are back on the menu, wahee!!!!!  The strange things is that we don’t really feel like either at the minute.  After being raw vegan for four months, we both feel bright as buttons and our cravings have flown out of the window.  We will no doubt encounter our little food vices again shortly, but at the minute, that morning beetroot juice is looking pretty damn good!

On a rock before the Himalayan giants, Gaumukh, India.  I had some awesome curries up their cooked in sheds by Sadhus.

On a rock before the Himalayan giants, Gaumukh, India. I had some awesome curries up their cooked in sheds by Sadhus.

A WORD ON ONIONS

Curries rely heavy on onions.  We are lucky to get ours from an organic farm at the minute and they are a completely different beast to those frequenting the fluorescent shelves of the supermarkets.  Onions should be firm and easy to cut, most should make you cry like a big baby.  If they are not fresh, they are really no good.  This goes for garlic also.  Onions and garlic suffer from being good agers, they last longer than most vegetables and therefore can be abused due to poor rotation.  Buying smaller quantities of these staples works.  Onions are such a wonderful ingredients, you can use them in so many different ways and with curries, they are the root of the flavour; the stage for the spices to do their merry dance.  Good onions matter!

A WORD ON SPICES

Spices also matter!  Big time!  Freshly roasted spices are the best by far, they also keep better in your cupboard.  If you have a pack of turmeric lingering in the cupboard, please get rid of it and buy some more.  I know its a waste, but old spices are pointless and lead to insipid curries.  The beauty of Indian cooking is primarily found in the freshness of the spices used.  If your using spices, keep them in an airtight container, in a dark place.  We cherish our spices and generally use freshly roast spices, ground in a pestle and mortar.  If you’re going to make a curry, you might as well make it spectacular!

The teaspoons below are all pretty level or one heaped half teaspoon.

Serves two curry fiends:

Bengan Bhartha

The Bits

2 aubergines (cut into chunky batons), 3 medium tomatoes (roughly diced) or 1 punnet  of cherry tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 2 cm ginger (finely chopped), 1 medium onion (finely sliced), 1 teas mustard seeds, 1 teas ground cumin, 1 teas ground coriander, 1 teas turmeric, 1/2 tsp sweet paprika, 1 chilli (finely diced), 1/2 teas asafoetida, 1 teas sea salt, 3 tbl oil, 2 tbl filtered water, fresh coriander (for garnish)

Do It

(We are adverse to turning our oven on for one little thing, so we roast our tomatoes and aubergine in pans.)

On a medium heat, add your cumin and coriander seeds to the pan.  Roast for a few minutes, until fragrant and slightly brown.  Bash up well in pestle and mortar.

Roast your aubergine in 2 tbl of oil on a high heat, tossing regularly.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, until nicely soft and well caramelised.  YUM.  Set aside and cover with a plate.  No roast your tomatoes in the left over oil on a very high heat, a little dark colour is good here, for around 5 minutes.  Set aside and cover.

In the same pan, add 1 tbl of oil and saute your mustard seeds for 30 seconds, they will pop a little, then add your onions and lower heat slightly.  Cook the onions until they are becoming golden, then add your garlic and ginger, cookf for three minutes, then your spices hit the pan, stir them well, not allowing the spices to stick to the bottom, add a little water if this happens.  Saute for a few minutes and then add your tomatoes, aubergine and water (if needed, check consistency).  Cover and warm through for 5 minutes.

North India 'Fest

North India ‘Fest

GOBI TIKKA

The Bits

1 small cauliflower (cut into big florets), 2cm cube fresh ginger (finely diced), 1 tomato (roughly chopped), 3 garlic cloves (finely diced), 1/2 lemon juice and zest, 1 tbs tamarind pulp/ paste, 1 teas turmeric, cumin, paprika and coriander, 1/2 teas mango powder, sea salt and black pepper, 2 dates (finely chopped), fresh coriander (for garnish), 1 tbs oil, rainbow chard (an extra that we added from the garden, couldn’t resist but not traditional in any way)

Do It

(If you feel like roasting this in an oven, please do, we used the hob.)

On a high heat, add the oil and roast the cauliflower for 5 minutes, until it becomes brown and slightly charred.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well (be gentle with the cauliflower).  Cook for 10 minutes on a gentle simmer, then place a lid on the pan and leave to infuse for a further 10 minutes.

Serve 

With mango pickle or your favourite Indian condiments.  Our pickle actually comes from Pakistan and is really, really potent.  We also had a little organic soya yoghurt.  All scattered liberally with freshly chopped coriander and some nutty brown basmati.

We Love It!

For me, this is the ultimate meal.  We are missing a few warm chapattis, but this is my idea of food heaven (for today anyway!)  A selection of curries with all the accompaniments has long been my favourite meal, I was raised in the Philippines and every Friday night we had something like this for dinner.  Mango chutney may be nice, oh, mango chutney, so sweet.

Foodie Fact 

Asafoetida is a funny one, not just because if its tongue twisting name.  It is the root of a herb and is also known as devils dung or stinking gum!  It has a pungent aroma and some amazing medicinal properties, added to food it has a smooth flavour, similar to that of leeks.

Asafoetida aids digestion, it has been used to treat hysteria, respiratory problems,  painful menstruation, it has even been said to cure impotence!  It is a sedative and has been used to treat opium addicts, it has been used as a natural pesticide and has anti-biotic properties.

An Indian Cafe Menu - Gangotri, Himalayas

An Indian Cafe Menu – Gangotri, Himalayas

Categories: Curries, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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