Tofu Scramble with Spinach & Mushrooms

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This delicious breakfast dish was adapted and cooked for me by Richard from Doctor Rupy Aujla’s recipe for Tofu Scramble. I will now be experimenting with swapping tofu for eggs in all my favourite scramble recipes.

For two servings –

300 grams firm or silken tofu

70 grams mushrooms

3 spring onions

70 grams baby spinach

salt and freshly ground black pepper

A good pinch of mixed herbs

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

olive oil / coconut oil

Slice the mushrooms. Any type of mushroom will work in this recipe, shiitake are particularly good.

Drain the tofu and dry well with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.

Put in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the turmeric and seasonings.

Put the mushrooms into a frying pan with enough water to come up to just about half way up the mushrooms.

Cook on a medium heat until the water has been absorbed and the mushrooms are cooked to a softness.

Add half a tablespoon each of olive oil and coconut oil and then the sliced spring onions. Fry for two or three minutes to soften the onions.

Add the tofu and gently mix as it heats through.

Once the tofu is warm, add the spinach and continue gently mixing as the spinach wilts.

Serve on whole meal toast drizzled with a little olive oil.

Aubergine Salad & Exquisite Hummus

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The aubergine pate that I served for supper last night was this salad whizzed up in the food processor, and the bean hummus was this hummus recipe, just substituting ready cooked butter beans for the chickpeas, so thought it was worth reposting these recipes.

 

I have been making this salad for so long that I now don’t recall the origin of the recipe. It is equally good as a salad, or puréed in the food processor as a vegetarian pate.

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The herbs can be changed to vary the flavour depending on taste and what you have available fresh. In the master recipe I have specified Oregano, I also like Coriander or Mint.

AUBERGINE SALAD

2 largish aubergines

Half teaspoon cumin seeds

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic – finely chopped

2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

Fresh oregano – finely chopped

Fresh chilli – finely chopped

Chives finely – chopped

I have found that the best way to cook the Aubergine for this is in the microwave, although you can roast them if you prefer.

Prick the Aubergine all over with a fork to prevent any explosions and put on a plate  in the microwave. Cook at full power for two minutes.

Turn over and cook for another two minutes.

Depending on the size of the vegetables and the power of you microwave they may now be cooked . They want to feel soft all the way through.

If they need a bit more cooking, turn them on their side and cook for another minute.

They can be turned to the other side and given another minute of cooking if you think that they need it.

Let cool until only warm and handleable.

Meanwhile toast the cumin seeds in a shallow thick based pan until they are slightly coloured and you can smell their aroma. Grind them and the salt with a pestle and mortar.

Once the aubergines are cool cut them into small cubes. I grow on the farm a variety of Aubergine called Gandia which has very thin soft skin, so I leave it on, but if the skin is tough remove it before cutting up the flesh.

Put in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

If you are making pate, put all the ingredients in the food processor instead and process to a purée.

Leave for an hour at room temperature for the flavours to develop with one another before serving.

HUMMUS.

A classic revisited.

hummus

Mass production has turned this dish into a bland cream, let’s get back to the super tasty dish that it started life as. The deep nutty flavour of the toasted sesame seeds blended with that of the chick peas should be the first to hit the taste buds, then the pungency of the garlic closely followed by the citrus sharpness of the lemon. If you like you can also add some finely chopped fresh coriander to add yet another flavour.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 jar or tin chick peas

2 cloves garlic – chopped

Grated rind and juice of a lemon – unwaxed if possible

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Picante paprika or pimenton

Put the sesame seeds in a shallow thick based pan and toast on a low heat shaking from time to time until light brown and giving off their distinctive aroma.

Grind to a paste with a pestle and mortar adding the olive oil to moisten as you go along.

Drain the chick peas from their liquid and rinse well to wash off the starchy residue.

Put in the food processor with the sesame paste, garlic, lemon rind and juice. Process to a paste – but not a smooth puree – leave some texture in the chick peas. Add more oil if it seems too dry.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put in a small bowl with the paprika sprinkled over.

Serve with warm pitta bread.

Try hummus rissoles – add egg, then egg and breadcrumb or flour and fry

Oatmeal Crackers with Mixed Seeds

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These taste better than any crackers that you buy in the supermarket. They’re crispy but moist and full of the nutty flavours of the seeds. I have to thank Rowena for inspiring me with her version of seeded crackers into having a go at creating my own. Perfect for serving with dips for a light supper or lunch, last night my friend John and I had them with a bean hummus, aubergine pate, guacamole and a tomato salad.

150 grams medium ground oatmeal – you can used rolled oats but the crackers have a better texture and hold together better with ground oatmeal

100 grams sunflower seeds

90 grams flax seeds

50 grams green pumpkin seeds

40. grams sesame seeds

1 level teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

350 ml water

Mix all the dry ingredient together

For the liquid, you can substitute some or all the water with vegetable stock or when I made the crackers yesterday I used the gooey liquid from my jar of beans and some water.

Mix the olive oil into the water and add the whole lot to the oat and seed mix. Mix well. It will be quite wet.

Leave for an hour or two until the liquid has been absorbed.

Put the oven on to warm at 180C

Spread the mix onto an oiled shallow baking tray into an even layer about 1/2 a centimetre thick. If the layer is too thick the crackers will take longer to cook and will not be crisp. I used a round shallow tin of 30cm diameter the first time I made these and an oblong tin 25 x 35 cm the third time and they came out perfect, however the second time I made them an had them in a smaller tin they were too thick and soft.

Mark out where you want the crackers to break with a knife.

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.

Let them cool in the tin before removing them and breaking them up. They will keep for several days if kept in an airtight jar or tin.

Pickled Salad

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This fresh light salad can be made with many different vegetables depending on the season, I will give you the recipe of exactly what I put in this time, and at the end of the recipe a list of the other vegetables that like this type of marinade. The salad is made in a large glass jar which is put on a sunny windowsill for a couple of days to lightly ferment and tenderise the vegetables. The fermentation also adds to the prebiotic qualities of the vegetables.


50 grams sea salt

20 grams sugar

750 ml water

400 ml cider vinegar

romanesco cauliflower – cut into smallish florets

carrots – peeled and very thinly sliced

radishes – very thinly sliced

Spring onion and garlic – sliced diagonally

mustard seeds

In a large jug, mix the water and vinegar with the salt and sugar. Stir well.

Layer the vegetables in a large jar adding a sprinkling of mustard seeds as seasoning with each set of layers.

Push the layers down to compact the vegetables and then see if you need more layers. Once the vegetables soften they will naturally compact down, so it’s a good idea to firm them down at this stage.

Once the jar is full, add the brine and vinegar, fill to the top of the jar.

Stand the jar in a container to catch any overspill of liquid. You will need to put something in the neck of the jar to weigh down the contents and stop them rising above the liquid. I use a small round plastic container to fit inside the jar neck, and a jar of beans as the weight.

Place the whole contraption on a sunny window sill for 2-3 days to ferment. The vegetables will emit bubbles of gas as they marinade, which will push some of the liquid out over the top of the jar, hence the need to have a container to catch the excess.

Once the bubbling has stopped remove the weight, top up the jar with the overspill liquid and more of the brine mix if necessary. Put the lid on the jar. Wash the outside of the jar.

Leave the salad to continue marinating in the fridge for a couple more days and then it will be ready to eat.

The salad will keep for a couple of weeks, so doesn’t need to be eaten all in one sitting.

Other vegetables that can be used for this salad are: white cabbage, Chinese leaves, red peppers, bean sprouts, cucumber and courgettes, broccoli and white cauliflower. The spice and seasoning can be varied too, I used mustard seeds to complement the cauliflower. Dill is traditional in Eastern Europe, coriander, caraway seeds, fresh herbs, citrus peel. If you want to give the salad a more oriental flavour, then add fresh ginger, lemon grass and chilli….and maybe a splash of Nam Pla. Have a play with flavours and see which ones you like!

Sweetcorn Fritters with Pickled Salad

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Not much is better than a sweetcorn fritter. They can be made with several types of flour, although I prefer them made with either buckwheat or chickpea four, which add protein to the dish. The addition of onion and garlic gives a more savoury taste to balance the sweetness of the corn, and of course a little finely chopped fresh chilli goes well.


Per person

50 grams flour – buckwheat/chickpea/wheat

90 grams sweetcorn – either cut straight from the cob/ frozen/or tinned – keep any liquid from the tin

10 grams green pumpkin seeds

1 teaspoon finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper

oil for frying

Mix the flour with the sweetcorn, pumpkin seeds, and onion and garlic.

Add enough water, including any water from the tin if using tinned corn, gradually to make a thick but spreadable batter.

Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until quite hot then add a tablespoon of the batter to make a smallish fritter. I like to make a trail one to check that the batter is not too thick or thin. If the batter is a bit thin there is no problem adding a little extra flour at this stage to thicken it up. Likewise add a small amount more water if it seems too thick.

When you are happy with the consistency of the batter, go ahead and make several smallish fritters.

When the critters are brown and crispy on one side, turn over and cook the other side. Once done remove and drain excess oil onto kitchen paper.

Spicy Green Lentils & Fresh Apple Chutney

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This lentil dish is fragrantly spiced with a rich vegetable sauce, then the crisp apple chutney gives a tart and hot contrast to the softness of the lentils.

The lentils – Serves 4

250 grams Pardina or Puy lentils

vegetable stock – about 700 ml

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 courgette

1/2 Florence fennel

1/4 celeriac

1 large spring garlic

1 large spring onion

seeds of 10 green cardamoms

6 curry leaves

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 heaped teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon Maggi wurze

salt and freshly ground black pepper

chard or spinach leaves

Finely chop the garlic and onion

Cut the celeriac, courgette and fennel into about 1 cm dice.

Warm the oil in a large pan and fry the garlic and onion for two to three minutes

Add the vegetables and fry stirring from time to time until lightly browned.

Add the lentils and all the seasonings and then enough stock to cover.
Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down and gently cook until the lentils are tender and the vegetables have made a thickish sauce. Check the liquid level from time to time and add more stock if the dish is getting dry.

Check the seasoning of the lentils and add salt and pepper as needed.

Just before serving stir in the spinach or chard cut into strips. Let cook a couple of minutes for the leaves to wilt and brighten. The lentils taste enven better if cooked the day before you want to serve, like all stews, but leave the addition of the leaves until the last moment again.

The fresh apple chutney

1 crisp slightly tart apple – cut into small dice

fresh green chilli – finely chopped

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

juice from 1/2 lime

Mix all the ingredients together adding the chilli gradually. You want the chutney quite spicy but not blow your head off. Leave to marinate for half an hour or so before serving.

Braised Lettuce & Peas

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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.


Per person

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.

Mushroom Consommé – and making vegetable stock

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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.

Serve with the parsley sprinkled over.

Cucumber and Enoki Mushroom Salad

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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

alfalfa sprouts

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.

Smoked Tofu with Crispy Ginger

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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.

Per person

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.

Serve with plain rice.