Mixed Vegetable & Soya Bean Stew

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A rich stew is just the food for this time of year, it’s warm and satisfying. The main ingredient in this stew is soya beans, high in protein, tasty and a good firm texture. As with all stews, making a small amount is impossible, so I’ve made this a little spicy but not overly so that on its second outing I can spice it up and add fresh mint, coriander and raisins to give it a more Moroccan taste and then serve it with Cous Cous.

For 4 portions

160 grams dried soya beans – soaked overnight in cold water

1/2 onion – sliced

2 cloves garlic

1 litre stock

Olive oil


1/2 onion – thinly sliced

3 carrots – peeled and diced

1 medium turnip – peeled and diced

2 slices butternut squash – peeled and diced

1 courgette – diced

100 grams flat green beans – cut into 1 cm lengths

1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice mix

jar of tomato passata/ tin chopped tomatoes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the beans overnight on plenty of cold water.

Drain and put in a saucepan with the half a sliced onion, the 2 cloves of garlic and enough stock to cover.

Put on the heat and bring to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook for about an hour and a half until the beans are tender. Add extra stock if the liquid gets too low.

Heat couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and add the other half of the onion. Fry until translucent.

Add all the diced vegetables and fry gently for ten minutes stirring them well to coat them with the oil.

Add the Ras el Hanout and stir well to mix with the vegetables.

Add the tomatoes and mix well. Cover the pan and simmer slowly for about ten minutes.

Drain the beans from their cooking liquid, keep the liquid to either add to the stew if needed or for another recipe, and add the beans to the vegetables.

Mix in well and simmer for another ten minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve in shallow bowls, either alone or with some crunchy fresh bread.

Mushroom Dumplings in Clear Soup

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My plan when I thought about making these was to have little tasty high protein dumplings that I could add to a stir fry, but once I had poached them in stock the resulting soup with dumplings was so good I left it as it was. Next time I make this I will add some finely sliced spring onions and some shredded greens. Thinking about it, a few bean sprouts would be good too.

For 2 portions

10 grams dried mushrooms – I used oriental Camelia mushrooms but any dried mushrooms will have the depth of flavour needed for this.

1 clove garlic

piece of fresh ginger 1 cm square approximately

4 tablespoons / 60 ml powdered gluten

1 tablespoon/15 ml rice flour

1 tablespoon peanut oil

pinch of salt

500 ml light stock

Fresh coriander – finely chopped

Remove any roots from the mushrooms then cut up the mushrooms roughly. Put in a small food processor and blitz to a powder.

Roughly chop the garlic and ginger and add to the mushrooms. Process to cut and blend all together.

Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to mix.

Add some of the stock teaspoon by teaspoon pulsing between spoonfuls until you you have a dough that holds together.

Form the dough into small dumplings.

Heat the stock and once simmering add the dumplings and simmer for 15 minutes. Check your seasonings adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with fresh coriander scattered over.

Burritos with Seitan

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I’m getting more confident now of how to make seitan that is light and tasty, but that still can be sliced and fried to a slightly crisp golden brown, with the texture similar to that of fried bacon slices. Burritos normally have thinly sliced spiced beef or chicken as one of the components, so I thought some spicy seitan should be a good substitute for the meat, then together with the guacamole and re fried beans you have a substantial filling.

For 2 portions – all spoon measurements are level spoons

4 tablespoons wheat gluten powder

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon Maggi vegetable stock powder

2 teaspoons garam masala spice

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground white pepper

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons vegetable stock plus 1 litre for poaching the seitan

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl

Add the olive oil and mix well.

Add the 3 tablespoons of stock and mix to a soft dough. If the dough feels too firm add a trickle more liquid.

Form the dough into a neat log shape.

Bring the stock to a simmer, put in the seitan and cook at barely a simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove the seitan from the stock and let cool before slicing. You can prepare the seitan up to this point in advance, the seitan will keep several days in the fridge.

When you are ready to assemble your burritos, follow my previous recipe for burritos with their filling of refried beans and guacamole. Slice and fry the seitan until golden and a bit crisp round the edges and add to the burritos. Roll them up and slather with sour cream or a vegan substitute, then drizzle with chilli sauce. Enjoy!

Seitan Dumplings

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For my second try with making seitan, I thought I would see if it would make little protein rich dumplings to add to vegetable soup. This time I’ve added olive oil to the mix to lighten the texture of the seitan, and added herbs and vegetable stock powder for flavour. I was very happy with the result.

Dumpling mix – enough for 2 portions – measurements in level tablespoons

4 tablespoons gluten powder

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder – I like Maggi the best

1 teaspoon very finely chopped mixed fresh herbs/ 1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper and a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons stock or water

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl making sure you break up any clumps of the stock powder.

Add the olive oil and mix well to distribute.

Mix to a fairly wet dough with the water or stock.

Form into small dumplings.

Bring you soup to a simmer and gently drop the dumplings one by one into it.

After a few minutes of cooking, the dumplings will rise to the surface which indicates that they are cooked.

Enjoy your soup and dumplings!

Adventures with Seitan

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Seitan is made from the protein in wheat, in other words the gluten. All the starch is washed out of the wheat leaving pure gluten which consists of over 80% protein. Quite clearly this is not suitable for anyone who is coeliac or has an intolerance to gluten.
The resulting powder is then seasoned and mixed into a dough with water or stock before being poached. Frequently the Seitan is poached in flavoured stock to take on the taste of a type of meat. For me making a vegetable product taste like meat is not something I feel I need to do, I’m quite happy with vegetables tasting like vegetables. Having said that, Seitan, like tofu is a pretty bland product, so it does need flavour adding to it, I’m having fun experimenting with different flavourings and will share my successes and failures with you. Because seitan has a high protein content it’s texture is quite dense and it can be browned like meat or sliced and then fried to crispness, which can add some interesting textures to dishes.

This first seitan I made, I can’t say I was very happy with the texture, it was very dense and a bit rubbery. It needed fat in it to lighten up the texture. Not one to waste anything, I cut it into matchstick shapes, fried until crisp, which came out pretty good, and added it to oriental fried rice. As the seitan was quite bland this first time of making it, it needed the flavour of the ginger, garlic and chilli to perk it up.

SEITAN – FIRST TRY BASIC RECIPE – ONE PORTION – all spoon measurements are level spoons

4 tablespoons gluten powder

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

pinch of salt

vegetable stock

In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients together.

Add enough water to make a workable dough and knead to a smooth consistency.


Form into a sausage shape.

Heat the stock to a simmer and put the dough into the stock. Keep the heat low so that the stock is only just moving. I find cooking the seitan in a slow cooker on a low setting works well.

Cook for 40 minutes then remove the seitan from the broth.

Cool and cut into matchstick shapes, before frying and adding to the stir fried rice.

Tomorrow Seitan Herb Dumplings for soup.

Kerala Coconut & Pineapple Sauce

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Roasted coconut gives this sauce a deep richness, fresh pineapple a sweetness and tamarind a sourness which combined with spices create a complex sauce with layers of flavour. Fish can be lightly poached in it, nuts can be added for a vegan dish or little cubes of paneer for a vegetarian version.

I’ve cooked some big chunks of salmon in the sauce this time, but any meaty fish works well as do prawns.
The tamarind that comes in a block, which you can buy online if it’s not available in your local shops, has far more flavour than the ready made tamarind sauces. You just break off a chunk and pour a little boiling water over it. Once it softens you can mash it removing any seeds and then add it to your dish. The block keeps for months in an airtight container in the fridge.

For 4 portions

1 onion – finely sliced

2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil

40 grams fresh coconut – finely grated and toasted slowly in a thick bottomed pan until lightly browned.

Tamarind – piece 2 cm square soaked in 2 tablespoons boiling water or 2 tablespoons tamarind sauce.

Fresh ginger – piece 2cm square

4 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 fresh red chilli – finely chopped / 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

100 ml chopped tomatoes / passata

2 x 1 cm thick slices fresh pineapple – core removed and cut into small cubes

salt

400 grams salmon – cut into large chunks

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion sliced slowly stirring from time to time until slightly caramelised. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Put the ginger, garlic, coconut, tomato and tamarind in a small food processor and blend to a paste.

Add this paste to the caramelised onions together with the turmeric, coriander and chilli. Add the pineapple and 100 ml water.

Bring to a simmer and cook slowly, covered for 15 minutes.

Add salt to the sauce as needed. The sauce can be made in advance up to this point and will benefit from having time for the flavours to develop and meld.

If using fish, add the chunks to the hot sauce and cook for only about 5 minutes until the fish is just done.

If using nuts or paneer, likewise add them to the hot sauce and let them heat through.

I served my dish with plain boiled basmati rice and Carrots and Peas with Fresh Green Coriander.


Steamed Broccoli & Cabbage with Whole Spices

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Although the vegetables in this dish are cooked, you stop the cooking while they still have some crunch, so it’s like a warm spicy salad, which is just as good when left to go cold.

For 2 portions

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon kalonji/onion seeds

peanut or olive oil

1/2 onion – sliced

4 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1/2 fresh green chilli – finely chopped

1/4 red pepper – cut into small squares

1/4 cabbage – finely sliced

Small head of broccoli – broken into florets

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a shallow pan and when hot add the whole cumin, coriander and kalonji. Fry until they start to pop and release their flavour.

Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and chilli. Fry for five minutes.

Add the cabbage and broccoli. Stir well to coat with the onions and spices.

Season with the garam masala, salt and pepper.

Cover and continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by about half a centimetre.

Cover and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, for around ten minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still with some bite.

Mushroom Samosas

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I’m not a fan of deep frying, preferring to bake these these Samosas or parcels in the oven. I know that this is not authentic for a samosa, but whatever you want to call them the crispy pastry with a lightly spiced mushroom filling is delicious.

For 8 samosas

1/2 onion – sliced

1 clove garlic – finely chopped

olive oil or butter for frying

300 grams oyster mushrooms

seeds of 8 cardamom pods – ground

salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

juice of 1/2 small lime

8 sheets filo pastry

oil or melted butter for brushing on to the pastry

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the sliced onions and chopped garlic. Fry gently until translucent.

Rip the mushrooms into strips and add to the frying pan.

Season with the cardamom, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the mushrooms are cooked. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Lay out a sheet of pastry and brush with oil or butter. Fold the top third lengthways over and brush this with fat. Fold the bottom third over and brush with fat. Turn the whole piece over so that the unbrushed third is uppermost.

Add a spoonful or two of the mushroom mix as below and fold the pastry first diagonally and then vertically until the filling is within a neat parcel.

Place all the parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes in a medium hot oven. 130 C in a fan oven, so around 140 C in a conventional oven.

I served mine with Steamed Broccoli and Cabbage with Whole Spices – recipe to follow – and a Tomato and Coriander Salad.

Creole Style Sweet Potato Soup

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This recipe came about with wanting to use up half a can of coconut cream and half a sweet potato that were lurking in the fridge, the resulting soup is so delicious that I have been making it ever since.

For 4 portions

750 ml light stock – either vegetable or chicken

500 grams sweet potato – peeled and cut into small cubes

80 ml coconut cream

1 teaspoon smoked picante paprika/pimenton

1/2 teaspoon coarsly ground black pepper

Juice of 1/2 a small lime

sea salt

Fresh coriander leaves – roughly chopped

Put the sweet potato, a little salt and the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes until the potato is cooked and soft.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Take the pan off the heat and purée the soup with a hand blender until smooth.

Reheat the soup. Check the seasoning adding more salt if necessary.

Serve the soup sprinkled with fresh coriander.

Seaweed Salad & Rice Noodles with Mushrooms

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Of course mixed seaweed is not a foodstuff that one comes across easily, but if you are, like me, culinary curious and happen across a market stall selling various salted and dried seaweeds the mixed salad is a good one to buy to see if you like it. My sister and I bought 250 grams and I forget how much we paid, it seemed pricey at the time, but that amount makes about 16 portions. The seaweed expandes to more than twice the size when you soak it. Of course it makes a perfect salad to accompany fish.

For 2 portions

60 grams dried seaweed salad – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water

Cucumber – peeled and cut into julienne

6 radishes – sliced

few sprigs of fresh purple basil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

juice of half a lime

Drain the water from the seaweed and rinse the seaweed in more water. Drain and add to the salad bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.

RICE NOODLES WITH MUSHROOMS

For 2 portions

50 grams rice noodles – soak for at least an hour in cold water

1 clove garlic

2 cm square piece of fresh ginger – finely chopped

1 tablespoon peanut oil

6 shiitake mushrooms – sliced

6 oyster mushrooms – sliced

1 tablespoon mushroom sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce – Nam Pla

Drain the noodles from their soaking water, put back into the container and pour boiling water over them.

In a wok, fry the ginger and garlic in the peanut oil for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes to cook the mushrooms.

Drain the noodles and add to the mushrooms. Mix well then season with the mushroom and fish sauce and mix again.
Vegans may want to omit the fish sauce, in which case add some salt to the dish.

If you are serving the noodles with the Sea Bass in Coconut Sauce, then you can add a spoon or two of the sauce to the noodles to moisten them.