Banana, Coconut & Cardamom Buns

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These slightly sweet breakfast buns were inspired by an article on what to do with bananas that had got too soft. In the piece one of the cooks suggested making banana and cardamom puris. I just love anything flavoured with cardamoms and the idea of mixing the spice with bananas was very appealing.
Puris are made from a rich yeast dough, which of course can be baked as well as fried. I replaced the butter and milk in the puri recipe with coconut cream, some slivers of fresh coconut would add to this flavour, but I thought of that after I had made the buns. I was forgetting that I have some coconut flesh in the freezer, so next time…

250 grams whole meal spelt flour

7 grams fresh yeast / 3.5 grams powdered yeast

6 green cardamom pods

2 medium sized ripe bananas

120 ml coconut cream

2 teaspoons soft brown sugar

Egg white and more sugar for a topping

 

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the seeds from the cardamom pods, the sugar and the yeast. Mix well.

Peel and either mash or pulse the bananas in a food processor. You don’t want a purée but some texture remaining.

Add the coconut cream to the bananas and mix.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the banana and coconut cream. Mix in to form a sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave in a warm drought free place for a couple of hours until it has doubled in size.

Flour your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Knead the dough for a few minutes then divide into 8 equal balls.

Place on a baking tray and again in a warm drought free place leave to prove for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 175 C and bake the buns for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 150 C and bake for another 5 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and brush each bun with egg white then sprinkle on a little brown sugar. Put the buns back in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the tops are nicely browned.

Maccheroni al Piselli

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Or pasta with peas…….and tomato sauce.

I’ve had a tray of peas sprouting on the kitchen windowsill for the last few days, and now the shoots are ready for cutting. The flavour of them is stronger than I expected, and stronger than that of the sweet peas I have, so I thought the two together would make a well flavoured sauce for the swirly maccheroni I have. And it did…….

For 2 portions

200 grams maccheroni

1/2 onion – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams tomatoes -either fresh or tinned – peeled and chopped small

120 grams tomato Frito or passata

400 grams sweet garden peas – either fresh or frozen

bunch of pea sprouts – cut in half if long

4 large sprigs of fresh basil – roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil for drizzling

Heat plenty of water seasoned with salt and olive oil, and when boiling add the pasta.

Once back boiling, turn the heat down to a brisk simmer and leave the pasta to cook to al dente. For this pasta it was about 12-15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry gently until translucent.

Add the chopped tomato, Frito and peas. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes stirring from time to time. You want the sauce to have reduced, thickened and the flavour to have intensified, so if you are using fresh tomatoes that are watery, the sauce may need longer cooking.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta once it is cooked.

Add the pea shoots and basil to the tomato sauce and stir in, then stir in the pasta making sure that it is nicely covered with the sauce.

Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil over the pasta, and enjoy!

Salad Days

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Today the first of the tender summer beetroot were ready to pick……..and its hot! So a trio of salads for lunch…….

Warm potato salad dressed With olive oil and white wine vinegar. The sweet salad onions and dried dill I soaked in the dressing for half an hour before adding the warm potatoes.

A mixed salad of tomatoes, straight from the garden lettuce and radishes, cubes of bread and left over grilled vegetables.

And the lovely beetroot and it’s tender leaves in a lightly marinated raw salad.

2 small beetroot, peeled and cut into fine julienne.

1 tablespoon/ 15 ml green pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon / 15 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon / 15 ml balsamic syrup

1 tablespoon / 15 ml extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and leave to marinate for an hour or so.

Sajur Lemeng

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This Indonesian vegetable curry is adapted from one of my old cookery books, South East Asian Food, written by the Australian academic Rosemary Brissenden who fell in love with Indonesia and its cuisine as a student in the 1960’s.

I made this as a vegan curry which was delicious, the original recipe was with prawns and prawn paste so I will give amounts of those for making the non vegan version.

For 2

about 250 grams in total of various vegetables. You can choose between red and green peppers, green beans, aubergine, bean sprouts and the following that I used on this occasion –

asparagus

leeks – cut into thin strips

courgette – Cut into bite sized chunks

mange toute peas

small green peppers

mizuna and Pak Choi

1 red fresh chilli – chopped

2 cm square, more or less, fresh ginger or better still galangal – chopped

2 garlic cloves – cut in half

1 small sweet onion – roughly chopped

5 macadamia nuts / 10 hazelnuts

1 teaspoon / 5 ml ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste – if making a vegan curry omit this

1 tablespoon / 15 ml coconut oil

400 coconut milk

First make a curry paste. In a small food processor whizz together the chilli, ginger, garlic, onion, nuts, shrimp paste and coriander together with the coconut oil.

Gently fry the curry paste in a large wok for 5 – 10 minutes until it is cooked.

Add the coconut milk and heat to a simmer.

Add the vegetables that need the longest cooking first, then after a few minutes the more tender vegetables and the prawns if using. Simmer until the vegetables are just done with some bite remaining and the prawns cooked through.

Serve with jasmine rice or sesame sprinkled rice noodles.


Patatas Bravas & Huevos Rotos

SPICY ROAST POTATOES WITH BROKEN EGGS

This recipe is super easy, a variation on the oven chips, the only special ingredient needed is Picante Smoked Pimenton or Paprika. The potatoes come out of the oven with a crispy, garlicky, spicy coating, and the eggs make a thick tasty sauce.

Put a large baking tray in the oven and warm it to 190 C or equivalent. The potatoes need to be in a single layer with a bit of space between each one so they can crisp up, so if you are making a largish amount use two trays.

Peel the potatoes and cut into bite sized chunks and put into a bowl.

Crush a clove of garlic per person with a pinch of salt, then mix into 2 tablespoons of oil per person. Add to the potatoes and mix well.

Spread the potatoes on the hot baking tray and put in the oven for 30 minutes by which time they should be almost cooked a a bit brown round the edges.

After the 30 minutes take the tray out of the oven and toss the potatoes with a fish slice. Sprinkle over the pimenton, about a teaspoon per person, and toss again.

Put back in the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Meanwhile poach 2 eggs per person.

Serve the potatoes with the eggs on top, cutting the eggs to let the lovely hot yolk dribble over the potatoes.

Spicy Aubergine Salad

Do you ever read a recipe and think how interesting it sounds, and then when you go back to make it the recipe some days later, what you have in your head and how you desire it to taste only bears a faint resemblance to the original recipe? This is what happened with this recipe, but I went ahead and made the recipe that I had imagined which turned out super tasty and delicious.

1 large aubergine

1 clove garlic

4 tablespoons / 60 ml of olive oil

1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml sea salt

2 cm cube tamarind paste

1 tablespoon / 15ml sugar/ honey / agave syrup

1 tablespoon / 15 ml cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml picante smoked pimenton or paprika

fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Break the tamarind paste into as small pieces as you can and put in a small container with about a tablespoon of boiling water. Leave to macerate.

In a pestle and mortar or a small bowl crush the garlic with the salt until you have a paste.

Add the olive oil and mix well.

Cut the aubergine into thickish slices and then brush with the garlicky oil. You can either grill them or bake them in the oven. As you can see I baked mine this time with a sweet potato at 190 C

While the aubergines are cooking and cooling, prepare the dressing.

To the leftover garlicky oil add the rest of the ingredients. The tamarind will need to be mashed into its water and any seeds removed.

Put your aubergine slices into a shallow salad dish, pour over the dressing and gently toss. Leave the salad for half an hour for the aubergine to absorb the dressing, sprinkle over the fresh coriander and enjoy.

Rosti

Potato Rosti are so simple to make that this hardly counts as a recipe.

Peel your potatoes and grate them. Put in a bowl with a pinch of salt and mix well.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large thick based frying pan.

Take a handful of the grated potato and form it into a small round rissole shape, squeezing out some of the moisture as you go. Put into the hot oil.

Continue making cakes with all the grated potato.

Cook on a medium heat, adding more oil if needed, until a good golden brown on the first side.

Carefully turn the cakes over and cook on the other side.

Oven Chips with Mushrooms & Garlic

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After the somewhat complicated Sarma recipe, here are a couple of super simple potato dishes.
Oven chips are so easy to make if you have a good powerful oven, a fan oven is best to get chips that are crispy round the edges.

Put a large baking sheet in the oven and set it to warm up at 200 C

Peel your potatoes and cut them into whatever chip shape is your preference.

Put them in a bowl with a pinch of salt and just enough olive oil the coat the chips.

Spread your chips out on the preheated tray, they do better if they are not too crowded and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and slice a clove of garlic, and slice up some mushrooms. It’s more tasty if you have more than one type of mushroom, I used shiitake and oyster.

After the chips have had their 20 minutes of cooking, take the tray out of the oven and with a spatula turn them over. Strew over them the mushrooms and garlic, then put the tray back in the oven for another 20 minutes by which time everything should be brown and crispy and gorgeous.

Serving this with a poached egg on top is lovely.

Sarma – The Original Meat Recipe & A Vegetarian Version

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This recipe comes from my Bosnian father. It would be made in the winter when tightly packed white cabbages were in season. The cabbage leaves are used to wrap a filling of meat and rice, which is then cooked in tomatoes and stock and finally thickened with a brown roux. We always made Sarma a couple of days before wanting to eat it as the flavour is so much richer after time.
Now that I no longer eat meat I have been experimenting with vegetarian fillings for the cabbage rolls, after a couple of tries which tasted good enough but didn’t hold together like the consistency of the original versión, I turned to textured soya, which is a bit on the sweet side, but with the addition of seasonings and an egg to bind it, it worked well.

For 2 servings

1 large white cabbage

400 gram tin peeled or chopped plum tomatoes

1/2 red pepper – chopped into small cubes

1 – 2 litres vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

MEAT FILLING per person

150 grams minced beef or lamb

1/4 onion – finely chopped

1 clove gárlic – finely chopped

50 grams long grain rice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

VEGETARIAN FILLING per person

50 grams texturised soya – soaked in water for 20 minutes and then drained, or as instructed on the packet if different from the brand I used.

50 grams long grain rice

3 sun dried tomatoes – chopped into medium chunks

1 teaspoon/ 5 ml marmite

1 teaspoon / 5 ml Maggi Wurze

1 small egg

salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUCE

2 tablespoons / 30 ml plain flour

2 tablespoons / 30 ml olive oil

You need to start with the cabbage. Put a pan of water on to boil in which the cabbage can fit whole, bear in mind that you are going to submerge the cabbage, so not so much water that it will spill over once the cabbage is in it.
Remove any dirty or damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Make a cut in the base of the stem of the next outer leaf to release it from the main stem, then the following one. You may find that the first few leaves will come off the cabbage easily without being damaged, if not put the cabbage in the boiling water to blanch them and separate the leaves. One by one cut the leaves at the base to loosen them and then put the cabbage in the boiling water to remove them without any damage. You are wanting 2-3 leaves per person.

Once you have enough leaves, and maybe a spare or two, put them two or three at a time in the boiling water for about three minutes each until they become slightly translucent and a more pliable texture, then drain them and let them cool.

Next, to help the leaves roll nicely, get a potato peeler and shave off the outer ridge of the leaf base until it’s thin and flexible.

Now prepare your fillings. Whichever version you are making put all the ingredients for it in a bowl and mix well. Form your mix into two or three fat sausage shapes per person, squeezing the mix together so that it holds its shape.

Put each sausage into a cabbage leaf and roll the leaf around the filling.

To secure the rolls, tuck the ends inwards starting in the centre and tucking in round and round until you have a neat roll.

Put all your rolls into a pan where they will fit in one layer. They don’t want to be too tightly packed as they will expand.

Add the chopped tomatoes, red pepper and enough vegetable stock to cover the rolls.

Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down very low and cook slowly for an hour and a quarter. Check the liquid level from time to time and add more stock if needed.

Let the dish cool for half an hour, then carefully take out the parcels and transfer them to another dish leaving the sauce in the pan. I put mine into an ovenproof dish in which I was going to reheat them the next day.

To thicken the sauce you are going to make a brown roux. Put the oil and flour in a small frying pan, mix together to blend, then on a medium heat cook the roux stirring all the time until it caramelises and turns a medium nut brown.

Turn off the heat and add the tomato sauce from the Sarma a bit at a time and mix well to blend. With the first spoonful the roux will go thick and dry looking, don’t worry, keep adding the sauce and all will be well.

Once you have added enough of the tomato sauce to have a liquid, tip this into the pan of tomatoes in which you cooked the Sarma and heat the sauce to thicken it stirring all the time.

You can now replace the cabbage parcels, reheat the dish for 15 minutes and serve it, or pour the sauce over the parcels in an ovenproof dish and leave to cool, to be then reheated in the oven the next day or the day after that.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables & Cous Cous with Almonds & Sultanas

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All amounts are for one portion
Firstly get your spices roasting – in a thick based frying pan on a low heat roast the following –

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 cinnamon stick – broken into pieces

1/2 teaspoon allspice seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 cloves

Roast the spices, shaking the pan from time to move the spices around, until they start to release their aroma. Grind with 1/2 teaspoon of salt with either a pestle and mortar or in a small coffee grinder.

For the Cous Cous –

40 grams Cous Cous

small amount of flaked almonds

10 sultanas

pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients in a small container that has a lid, stir to mix and then pour over boiling water to come about nearly a centimetre above the level of the Cous Cous. Cover and leave for 20 minutes.

For the vegetables –

1/2 an onion – finely chopped

1 clove garlic – finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped red pepper

1 tablespoon chopped green pepper

1 medium sized carrot – chopped into small cubes

piece courgette – chopped into small cubes

piece butternut squash – chopped into small cubes

4 tablespoons cooked chickpeas

200 grams chopped peeled tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon harissa

2 strips lemon peel / lemon chutney

2 bay leaves

fresh mint leaves

Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until translucent.

Add the green and red peppers and fry briskly for five minutes.

Now add the carrots, butternut squash and courgettes, and again fry briskly for five minutes.

Add the tomatoes, the roasted spices, harissa, lemon peel, bay leaves and chickpeas to the pan and stir to mix.

Heat to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, cover and leave to cook until the vegetables are done, 10 – 15 minutes.

The Cous Cous should be done, it just needs a stir to break up the grains a bit. If it is not hot enough, put it into the microwave for a couple of minutes to reheat it.

Serve strewn with fresh mint leaves.