A dish that is so simple but the combination of ingredients tastes better than you would imagine. This used to be a springtime dish that celebrated the first and sweetest peas and lettuce of the season, now with frozen tiny sweet peas and year round lettuce from this warm region of Spain it can be made any time of the year.
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or the same amount of butter
1 spring onion
1/2 spring garlic
1 small lettuce
150 ml small sweet peas
100 ml vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the onion and garlic in diagonal slices
Warm the oil or butter in a shallow pan that has a lid.
Add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until translucent.
Cut the lettuce into quarters and add to the pan then add the peas and the stock.
Cover and leave to cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes.
Carefully turn over the lettuce to ensure even cooking.
Let cook a further 3-4 minutes, by which time the lettuce should be wilted but still with a bit of bite.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Making vegetable stock is easy especially if you have the tougher leaves from your own vegetables or buy them from a market where they are not trimmed down to the cleaner more tender parts. Don’t be rigid about what goes into the stock pot, pea and bean pods are fine, the tough stems of broccoli and cabbage, the sad vegetables in your bin at the end of the week including wrinkly tomatoes and peppers and, failing all that, one of those mixed stew packs will make good stock. I generally like to include onion and carrots, and then whatever else is available, the more variety the better.
The stock for this soup was made with –
the pods from some broad beans
the green tops of a bunch of spring onion and a bunch of spring garlic
the base and tough stems of one of those green cauliflowers with pyramids
the white stems of a bunch of Swiss card
the thick stem of a broccoli
a couple of soft carrots
Wash everything and scrub rather than peel the carrots. Trim dirty ends off then roughly chop everything and put in a large pan.
Pour in boiling water to just cover, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for an hour.
Don’t add salt at this point as when you come to use the stock you may want to add salty flavourings or reduce the stock in which case you would end up with a dish that’s too salty.
Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
MUSHROOM CONSOMMÉ – three servings
1.2 litres vegetable stock
50 grams Fresh enoki mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon marmite
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 slices fresh ginger
finely chopped parsley
Put the cool stock in a pan and add the mushrooms and ginger.
Stir in the Marmite and soy sauce.
Leave the soup for at least an hour for the flavours to blend.
Ten minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, bring it slowly to the boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
This is a version of a salad that I had in Restaurant Xiao ge zi in Valencia. It has taken three attempts to get the dressing right, but I think I’m there now.
The original salad had as well as the cucumber and mushrooms, the carrot slivers and thin strips of red pepper. For this version I’ve left out the peppers and added sliced radishes and alfalfa sprouts, which went particularly well with the dressing. Double the amount of dressing was used in the original salad, but as this was to go with the delicate stir fried smoked tofu, I pared it down. If you want a picante salad then stir in chilli oil at the end to suit your taste.
The salad needs to marinate for about an hour so start your preparation early enough to allow for this.
1 small cucumber – peeled and cut into long thin slices
enoki mushrooms – I used fresh thin and plumper ones, but you can use the dried thin enoki.
1 carrot – peeled and cut into slivers with your peeler
Radish – sliced
For the dressing –
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Mix all the ingredients together and leave to marinate for about an hour at room temperature.If you are using dried mushrooms, marinate until the mushrooms are tender.
I have come back from Christmas in Valencia with some oriental goodies found in Chinatown. There are two types of fresh enoki mushrooms, which feature in the next post, and two types of smoked Tofu, one dark and the other more golden.
I’m something of a novice with tofu dishes, especially the smoked type, so this dish was a bit make it up as you go along, hence the black beans appearing in the photo of ingredients, which I decided not to use. This tofu has a delicate flavour, not of smoke exactly, more fragrant like a very lightly smoked tea, so it felt right to complement the delicate taste of the tofu rather than adding strong flavours.
100 grams dark smoked tofu
sunflower or peanut oil
piece of fresh ginger about 2 cm square
1 spring onion
1 spring garlic
1/2 green pepper – the long thin variety
juice of half a small lime
1/2 teaspoon light soy or fish sauce
Drain the tofu and wrap in tea towel or kitchen roll to dry it thoroughly. Once it’s dry, cut into thin slices.
Cut the ginger into short julienne
Cut garlic and onion into slanted slices
Cut the pepper into long thin slices
Warm a tablespoon or two of oil in a wok. Add the ginger and fry slowly until light brown and crisp. This will take five to ten minutes.
Add the garlic, onions and peppers. Continue frying tossing the vegetables constantly.
Add the tofu and stir fry until warmed through.
Season with the soy sauce or fish sauce and the lime juice.
For this salad hot stock is added as a dressing which blanches/cooks the ingredients and helps combine their flavours. This jewel bright salad has a Christmassy feel for me, with it containing cranberries, pomegranate and apples.
Enough for 4 portions
1/2 a medium sized red cabbage
sea salt and black pepper
250ml unseasoned vegetable stock
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
40 grams dried cranberries
1 red apple
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Start by slicing the cabbage as finely as you can. If you have a mandolin use that.
Put the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. With your hands crush the seasoning into the cabbage breaking it up a little as you go. Leave to soften for half an hour.
Put the coriander seeds in the stock and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave to steep for half an hour.
Once the cabbage and the stock have steeped, continue finishing the salad.
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and add to the cabbage together with the dried cranberries.
Cut the apple into small slices and add to the salad.
Dress the salad with the oil and vinegar. Mix well.
Bring the stock back to a boil and pour over the salad. Mix well.
The salad is ready to eat, but will taste even better the next day. If you store it in the fridge, get it out early enough to let it come back to room temperature before eating.
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.