Shiitake Mushroom & Tofu Fritters With Sweet and Spicy Sauce

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The tofu and bean sprout fritters recipe that I posted previously was very good and the resulting cakes very subtle and delicately flavoured. Today I wanted to make some with more punch and depth of flavour, so I fried some finely chopped shiitake mushrooms and fried them with the onion and garlic. Then, as I already had it sitting in the fridge, for the spices I used a tablespoon of the green curry paste that I made for the vegetable curry. And finally to allow for the extra moisture of the mushrooms I added extra egg and rice flour. The cakes did hold together in the pan a lot better than the previous ones with bean sprouts.
I will write the whole recipe for the fritters below, followed by the recipe for the sweet spicy sauce which was a bit of a last minute throw together, but worked really well as often is the case.

SHIITAKE MUSHROOM FRITTERS

Makes 2 portions

200 grams plain tofu

1 spring onion – finely chopped

1 clove garlic- finely chopped

100 grams shiitake mushrooms – finely chopped

peanut or other light vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vegan green curry paste – see previous post for recipe

4 tablespoons – 60 ml rice flour

1 egg – lightly beaten

Fry the onions and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil until translucent.

Add the mushrooms and continue frying slowly for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile break the tofu into a bowl and then mash it with a fork. Add the curry paste and mash more to mix thoroughly.

Add the mushroom and onion and again mix thoroughly.

Add the rice flour and mix, then finally the egg and mix again.

Form into six cakes squeezing the mix together with your hands so it holdS it’s shape.

Fry gently in oil until nicely light brown, about five minutes, then turn over carefully and cook the other side.

SWEET AND SPICY SAUCE

200 ml coconut milk

50 ml chilli jam – you can find the recipe on this site

juice of 1 small lime

1 tablespoon cashew cream

Heat all the ingredients in a small pan stirring them together. If the sauce seems a bit thin, coconut milk varies so much in density, add more cashew cream to thicken.

I have been experimenting with cashew cream, and in general I’m not so excited by it. It was great for thickening this sauce, but as a cream I find it works better for sweet things than savoury. I think in the next blog I will do a comparison of various vegan creamy sauces with recipes of course so you can try making whichever ones appeal.


Flat Green Bean Salad & Lemon Pickle Dressing

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This Lemon Pickle recipe was in the Guardian two or three weeks ago, and as we are not short of a lemon or two down here in southern Spain and the recipe sounded good I made some. It is fabulous. The fresh lemon flavour is complemented by the spices, which, with the juice from the lemon develop into a thick delicious sauce. It’s a marinated rather than cooked pickle, so pretty easy to make. The only difficulty is managing to leave it for two weeks before staring to eat it.

I bought some lovely tender flat green beans, and as they were in a pack I had enough for at least three meals. While searching for inspiration in my cook books I came across a recipe for the beans with a spicy lemon dressing, the ingredients for which were very similar to those of the Lemon Chutney. So today I steamed some of the beans, just enough to leave them with some bite, and added a spoonful of the pickle, then left it to marinate for half an hour, it was delicious.

LEMON PICKLE

These amounts make one large jam jar of pickle.

1 large lemon

4 birds eye chillis/ 1 large red chilli

40 ml vegetable oil – olive/ peanut/sunflower

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

20 grams salt

50 ml white wine/ rice vinegar

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

Cut the lemon lengthways into quarters and then thinly slice the quarters across. Put them into a bowl with the whole chillis. If you have a large chilli then cut it into two or three pieces so it will fit in your jar. You can of course add or reduce the amount of chilli according to your taste. I found that one largish chilli was spicy enough without dominating the other flavours in the pickle.

Heat the oil in a small pan, and add the mustard and nigella seeds. When the seeds start to pop add them with the oil to the lemons. Stir them in well.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to mix thoroughly.

Put into a clean jar and leave in a cool, not fridge cool, place for two weeks before using.

Vegetable Thai Green Curry

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T and I treated ourselves to a bit of a Thai feast to commemorate our two weeks of lockdown. We are getting into the groove now – made much easier by the emergence of the sun!

We had Smoked Tofu with Crispy Ginger – you can find the recipe on this blog – Vegetable Thai Green Curry, rice noodles with sesame oil and a little pickle of finely sliced radishes and spring onions in sweetened rice vinegar.

For this curry you can use a ready made green curry paste, but they do contain shrimp paste, so if you are being strict with your vegetarianism, you will have to make your own. It is quite difficult to get all the ingredients outside of Asia, so I’ve given options where necessary.

It is almost impossible to make a small amount of curry paste, so this amount will make 150 ml, about enough for 10 to 16 servings depending on how spicy the chillis are and how picante you like your curry to be. I recommend that you divide the paste up into tablespoon size portions and freeze what you are not using straight away.
Once you have this paste handy, you will find all sorts of other uses for it, In my meat eating days I would use it for a marinade for grilled chicken. My current favourite is Indian spicy mashed potatoes, but more of that another day.

Green curry paste

45 grams fresh green chillis

30 grams lemon grass

15 grams fresh galangal/ginger

25 grams garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

grated rind and juice of 1/2 kaffir lime / 1 whole small lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 grams shrimp paste – optional

Cut the lemongrass, chillis, including seeds, and garlic into smallish pieces. Put these into a small food processor with the rest of the ingredients and whizz to a paste. Open the processor and scrape the pulp down into the bowl two or three times to ensure an even paste.

Vegetable Green Thai Curry

For 2 portions

300 ml coconut milk

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste

1/4 red pepper – cut into 1/2 x 3 cm strips

1/4 kohl rabi – cut as above

4 flat green beans – cut díagonally into small pieces

broccoli florets

small bunch mizuna/pack choi

juice of 1/2 a lime

As usual I’ve given you a list of the vegetables I used on this occasion, but these can be varied depending on what you have. In the vegetable garden I have a great oriental leaves mix, which contains Mizuna, Pak Choi, Red Kale and Mustard Greens amongst others, so that’s what I have used here. Also the very last of the kohl rabi, I probably won’t see another one of them until next winter.

Heat the coconut milk in a small wok.

Add the curry paste and stir well to mix in.

Add all the vegetables except the leaves and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down, cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are just cooked.

Add the leaves and lime juice. Stir round for a minute or two to wilt the leaves.

Serve and enjoy!

Tabouleh of Khorasan

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Khorasan is a type of wheat that has large grains with a rich nutty flavour, which I love in a salad. It’s a relative of durum wheat which originated in the Middle East where it is still cultivated. I buy both the grains and flour from an ecological producer here in Spain. If anyone would like their details message me and I will pass them on.

This salad is based on Tabouleh where I have replaced the normal bulgur wheat with Khorasan wheat, and then added seeds and nuts for protein and extra texture.

For 2 portions

100 grams Khorasan wheat grains

1 large tomato – diced

2 tablespoons diced cucumber

2 tablespoons diced raw kohl rabi

1 spring onion – finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons crushed dry roasted hazelnuts

juice of 1/2 a lemon

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

large bunch fresh flat leaved parsley, tarragon and mint – chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Khorasan needs to be soaked, either overnight in cold water, or a couple of hours before cooking pour boiling water over the grains.

Cook the Khorasan in salted water for 20-30 minutes until soft. Drain and let cool a little.

Put into a salad bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Check the balance of lemon and oil adding extra of either if needed. Check seasoning.

If you can manage to let the salad sit for an hour, I almost never can, the flavours will have blended and developed to a richer taste.

Panzanella

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I decided to prepare this salad today, simply because I have some white rye and walnut bread that is bland tasting and a bit dry. Not good for sandwiches but perfect for this salad of bread and tomatoes which hails from the Tuscany región of Italy. The traditional recipe has anchovies as one of the ingredients, but if you want to make a vegan version of the salad it doesn’t suffer if you leave them out.
With fresh from the garden radishes and asparagus plus a small dish of boquerones, we had the perfect lunch.

For 2 servings

500 grams approximately of tomatoes

2 thick slices bread

1 garlic clove – crushed with salt

1/2 red onion – very thinly sliced

1 tablespoon capers – chopped

1 tablespoon black olives

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red chillis

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

flat leaved parsley – coarsely chopped

fresh basil leaves – coarsely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

And if you are making the non vegan version –

2 teaspoons black fish eggs

6 boquerones/ anchovies – chopped

Chop the tomatoes into chunks and put into your salad bowl.

Cut the crusts off the bread and discard them. Rip the bread into smallish chunks and add to the tomatoes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Let the salad sit for about an hour at room temperature for the tomatoes and onions to soften a little and the flavours to mix and develop.

Enjoy!

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

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This recipe is adapted from Gaz Oakley – the Avant Garde Vegan – and his recipe for Chickpea Curry. I wanted to make a curry that was a little less solid than only chickpeas, so have added various vegetables. I’m going to list in this recipe exactly the vegetables that I used, but of course you can change these according to what you have. I would alway include the red and green peppers, but then alternatives for the other vegetables are aubergines, peas, green beans or cauliflower.

Do have a look at Gaz’s website, there are some great recipes there, most with how to videos.

For 4 portions

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

6 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

oil – either olive or peanut

1 onion – sliced

3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 dessert spoon finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons finely chopped red chilli

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 small or 1/2 large courgette

1/2 col rabí

2 x 1 cm slices from a butternut squash

400 grams cooked chickpeas – either ready cooked from a jar or can, or if you want to start with dried peas, 200 grams – soaked overnight and boiled in salted water until tender.

small broccoli florets

1 banana – unpeeled

1 tin coconut milk – full fat

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Firstly slowly toast the first four spices listed in a thick bottomed pan until The mustard seeds start to pop. Grind them either in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large shallow pan and add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook slowly until the onions are nicely caramelised stirring from time to time. This will take 10 to 15 minutes, don’t rush it as this gives a rich flavour to the curry.

Cut the rest of the vegetables into 1 centimetre cubes.

Add the peppers to the onions and carry on frying for another 10 minutes.

Add the spice mix together with the turmeric and curry leaves. Stir to mix.

Add the tomato purée and stir to mix this in.

Now add the coconut milk and chickpeas. Mix in and heat to a simmer.

Add the courgette, col rabí and butternut squash. Simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are just cooked.

Wash the banana and without peeling it, top and tail it then cut it in half lengthwise and the cut into thick slices. Add to the curry together with the broccoli florets. Most of you have probably never added banana to your curry before, but trust me and try it, it adds a rich sweet element to the curry.

Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Serve with plain rice, chapatis and your favourite chutneys.

Braised Red Peppers with Baby Tomatoes & Capers

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This is one of those recipes that are so super simple that it’s hard to believe how tasty and rich the resulting dish is. Peppers and tomatoes are stewed in their own juices to make a rich and moist stew.
I had mine today with cous cous flavoured with almonds and raisins, this goes very well with pasta too.

For 1

2 medium or 1 large red pepper – cut into 1 1/2 centimetre strips

olive oil

10 baby tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon capers

small amount finely chopped red chilli to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a shallow saucepan or frying pan, and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and the red peppers. Cover and fry gently for 3-5 m8nutes to soften the peppers.

Add the tomatoes, capers and chilli, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to mix.

Cover and leave to stew gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time until you have a soft juicy stew.

Spaghetti With Globe Artichokes

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Today’s recipe is a simple tasty pasta dish with the sauce made from fresh globe artichokes and hazelnuts.

For 2 portions

200 grams spaghetti

6 globe artichokes – cleaned, trimmed and then cut into thin wedges

1 spring garlic/clove garlic – finely chopped

olive oil

50 grams hazelnuts

80 ml unsweetened hazelnut milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper

50 grams pecorino/Parmesan cheese finely grated – optional

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water seasoned with salt and a splash of olive oil.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the artichokes and garlic. Fry on a medium heat turning the artichokes over regularly until they are just cooked and lightly browned. Turn off the heat.

In a small food processor whizz the hazelnuts to chop them small.

Add the milk and whizz more.

Add half the artichokes to the nut mix and whizz again to achieve a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper.

If you are using cheese add two thirds of it to the purée and pulse to mix.

When the spaghetti is about cooked, put the heat back on under the artichokes in the frying pan. Add the puréed artichokes and a spoonful or two of the pasta cooking liquid to make a thick sauce. Heat gently to warm up.

Drain the pasta from its water reserving a bit in case the sauce needs more.

Add the pasta to the artichokes and mix well to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Serve with either a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley or the rest of the cheese if using.

Urap – Vegetable Salad & Coconut Dressing

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This Indonesian salad, as with the tofu fritters in the previous post, is from Sri Owen. As with most salads, you can vary the ingredients depending on what you have available that fits with the style of the salad.

I have used –

cucumber – peeled and cut into long wedges

red peppers – cut into long strips

red cabbage – finely shredded and blanched in boiling water for 1 minute

edename beans – I’d got cooked frozen ones that I defrosted

cooked mung beans

Other options are –

radishes

carrots – cut into fine julienne

beansprouts

french beans – lightly cooked

chinese cabbage – shredded and blanched

broccoli florets – blanched

For the dressing –

2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh coconut

2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red chilli

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

juice of 1/2 a lime

1/4 tablespoon brown sugar

salt to taste

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and then add them to the salad and mix well.

Tofu & Beansprout Fritters

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I have been doing my kitchen spring clean and as part of this culling my, rather large, collection of cookery books. As I have been doing this I’ve found some forgotten favourites hiding amongst the other tomes, so I thought I would go through them and share with you some old favourites and new discoveries from each one. This recipe and the next one are adaptations from Sri Owens excellent book, Indonesian Regional Food & Cookery.

For 2 portions

200 grams firm or silken tofu – drained

2 spring onions – finely chopped

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped

peanut oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger or galangal

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh coriander

2 tablespoons bean sprouts – either the regular sort you can buy or, my current favourite, fenugreek sprouts, or alfalfa are good

1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped red chilli

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons rice flour ( if you haven’t got this then regular wheat flour or chickpea flour)

1/2 lightly beaten egg

Gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger in a couple of tablespoons of the oil until the onions are translucent.

Put the tofu in a bowl and mash it well. Drain the onions from the oil in the pan, reserving the oil, and add to the tofu. Mix in.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Form into 4 round patties and fry On a medium heat in peanut oil until crisp and light brown.

Drain and serve with a chilli vinegar to dip into.