Fabulous Vegan lunch in this bright and modern restaurant. The service is efficient and always cheerful, but it’s the food that excites. The menu is innovative and adventurous with lots of tasty light vegetarian dishes. My sisters only complaint is that the humble potato should not be too humble to make an appearance on vegetarian menus – a small complaint.
We started with the house salad we we fell upon with such gusto that I forgot to take a photo. Next I had a pizza made with a corn, spelt and wheat flour base, moistened with a smooth sauce of cashew nuts and shiitake mushrooms flavoured with cumin and topped with vegan cheese, courgettes, rocket.
My sister had the very tasty vegan burger, which was served with a creamy tomato sauce and yuca chips.
There are many versions of Pad Thai, so it’s one of those dishes that can happily adapt to what you have in your fridge as long as you include the core ingredients, these being flat rice noodles, peanuts and bean sprouts. The flavourings are of course key. Galangal or ginger, red chillis, tamarind, soy sauce and Nam Pla, the Thai fish sauce.
Today I have spring garlics, green and red peppers, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, edename beans and Swiss chard leaves, plus of course some peanuts.
45 grams flat rice noodles
35 grams raw peanuts
35 grams edename beans – in Spain you can now buy these frozen in Mercadona
1 tablespoon Nam Pla fish sauce – you vegans will have to leave this out, although for me Thai food just doesn’t taste the same without it.
1 tablespoon lime juice
oil for cooking – either sunflower or olive oil
Firstly put the noodles to soak in cold water at least an hour before starting to cook.
Shell the peanuts and pod the edename
Cut the peppers into short strips
Wash the chard and cut into thin strips
Cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces
If you are using tamarind paste, which you buy in Asian stores in the uk, separate off a teaspoon sized chunk and put it into a small container with 2-3 teaspoons boiling water and mash the paste into the water to make a sauce. You can use tamarind ready made sauce if need be, but this tastes better.
Finely chop the ginger garlic and chilli
You are now ready to start cooking.
Boil the kettle, drain the noodles of the cold water, return to their container and cover with boiling water.
Heat a wok and add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Add the ginger, garlic and chills. Stir round and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the peppers to the pan. Stir round and cook for a couple of minutes.
Do the same with the broccoli.
Now the chard.
Put in the peanuts, bean sprouts and beans.
Drain the noodles and add to the wok.
Add the tamarind, soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir well to mix everything. Taste to see if you are happy with the balance of flavours and adjust accordingly if you are not.
I love grilled vegetables, especially grilled broccoli. This method of cooking seems to concentrate the flavour of each vegetable. I crush a clove of garlic with some coarse salt with a pestle and mortar, and then add olive oil to make a garlicky oil with which to paint the vegetables.
Romesco Sauce originated in Tarragona, Cataluña and traditionally is served with fish, but can make a great dipping sauce for vegetables. It is slightly spicy, garlicky and almondy.
35 grams almonds
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon sweet and sour smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chilli jam
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
Lightly toast the almonds in a thick bottomed pan on a low heat, stirring from time to time until light golden. Remove to the bowl of a small food processor.
Finely chop the garlic and fry in olive oil until golden brown. Add to the almonds.
Whizz these until the almonds are finely chopped
Add the rest of the ingredients except the stock or water, only add a tablespoon of this and whizz the mix again until a thick mayonnaise consistency.
Add a little more stock or water if the consistency is too thick.
I could have sworn that I’d posted this recipe a long time ago, but apparently not, so for all those who have asked for it, here it is!
Its really quite a simple thing to make, but a couple of pointers regarding the preserving. I save any small and medium jars that have screw top lids with a seal on the inside. If these are washed in the dishwasher on a hot cycle that is good enough to sterilise them, but when I come to fill them I have a pan of boiling water on the stove into which I put the jars for a couple of minutes to sterilise them again.
1 kilo red chillis – any type or a mixture of varieties
2 litres water
600 grams preserving sugar
1 kilo granulated sugar
It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves for dealing with the chillis especially if you are preserving several kilos.
Wash the chillis. Cut the stems off and then roughly chop and put into the food processor. Blitz until finely chopped.
Put in a large pan with the water and sugar.
The sugars I have used as above will make more of a thick sauce than a set jam, so if you want the jam to set you will need to use either all preserving sugar or granulated sugar and pectin. The pectin will come with instructions on the amount to use. I can’t buy pectin or preserving sugar easily here in Spain, and when I do find it it’s very expensive.
Bring to a rolling boil until setting point temperature is reached – 105C or 220F
If you don’t have a jam thermometer then put a saucer in the freezer and chill for five to ten minutes. Put half a teaspoon of the jam on the saucer then pop it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then you should get an idea of the thickness of the jam. If it forms a light skin it will definitely set.
Let the jam cool for a short while. Have a pan of boiling water on the stove ready to re sterilise your jars. Fish them out of the hot water with tongs and drain on a clean tea towel. Put the lids in the boiling water to heat and sterilise them too.
Fill the jars with the jam to about a centimetre from the top. Clean any jam from around the neck and rim of the jars. Loosely put on the lids.
Go back after five minutes and tighten the lids. Let cool completely.
Clean any dribbles from the outside of the jars and label.
If the jam is well sealed it will keep for a couple of years if stored in a cool dark place.
As children my sister and I would regularly ‘improve’ the tinned baked beans that we had for tea. Being brought up with Eastern European food with its garlic and spices, plain baked beans were to us…..well just….plain. Nowadays I start with even plainer beans and make a tomato sauce to put them in.
This is a bit of a store cupboard recipe, which means it’s quick to make.
A tin or jar of beans – I used a jar of butter beans, but use whichever you fancy – haricot, pinto, flageolet or lentils also work
half an onion – finely chopped
a clove of garlic – finely chopped
1 small or half a large green pepper – cut into short slices
a few wild mushrooms – chopped
150ml tomato Frito or passata
1/3 teaspoon marmite
2 tablespoons chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce
freshly ground black pepper
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow pan and add the chopped onions and garlic.
Fry for five minutes until translucent
Add the chopped peppers and fry another five minutes.
For the mushrooms, I had some fried ones left over from a couple of days ago that were already chopped and fried, so I added those with the tomato Frito. If you are adding uncooked mushrooms, do it now and fry for five minutes before adding the frito.
Add the tomato Frito and mix well.
Season with the marmite, chilli sauce and black pepper.
leave to cook for another five minutes.
Add the drained beans, mix well and then leave to warm through on a very low heat.
Check the seasoning, I’m assuming that the beans and tomato Frito already are salted, so as well as the salt from the marmite that may well be enough.
The tender new season artichokes are now on sale at the market which made me think to cook this dish.
2 rounded tablespoons buckwheat flour
6 tablespoons vegetable stock
Firstly prepare the artichokes. The tough outer leaves and the stem will need to be trimmed off, but as the artichokes are tender right now you don’t need to take too much off. When I think I have taken enough of the leaves off to get to the tender ones, I take off an extra one and bite into it to see if it is fibrous or not.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Cut the top of the leaves off the artichokes and discard, then slice the artichokes thinly and immediately toss into the frying pan.
Fry the artichokes for about ten minutes, tossing from time to time, until just cooked then turn off the heat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put the oven on at 175 C to warm up.
Make the batter. Add the stock to the buckwheat flour gradually to make a smooth batter.
Season with salt and pepper.
You will need a shallow tray the right size to take the batter in a thin layer.
Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the tray and put in the oven to heat up to almost smoking point as you would if you were making Yorkshire pudding.
Once the tray is heated up, remove from the oven and quickly pour in the batter, scatter over the artichokes, and put back in the oven.
Bake for 8 – 12 minutes until light brown and crispy round the edges.
Here in arid southern Spain we don’t get the lovely range of autumn wild mushrooms that appear in other parts, but occasionally Rovellones, members of the Cep family will be available in the market. I used these for this dish, any well flavoured mushroom will work.
As mushrooms don’t keep, I washed all of them, cut them into cubes and fried them in a little olive oil the day I bought them, so for this dish they were already precooked.
40 grams mushrooms
60 grams chestnuts
150-200 grams small new potatoes
12 small sage leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the oven to heat up at 175 C
Scrub the potatoes and cut them in half lengthways. Sprinkle some olive oil on an oven tray, add the potatoes, season and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
Cut the chestnuts along the curved top and put on a tray in the oven to roast and open.
After 10 minutes turn the potatoes over and add the prepared mushrooms. Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
As soon as the chestnuts are open and soft, check them after they have been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and let them cool. As soon as they are cool enough remove the chestnuts from their shells and take off the brown skin.
Heat oil in a small frying pan and when hot add the sage leaves. Cook for about 3 minutes until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen roll.
Add the chestnuts to the potatoes, scatter over the sage leaves and put back in the oven for a couple of minutes to warm through.