Ever feel like you need a new inner tube? I’ve eaten so much crap over the winter I need to lay off the mashed potatoes, sausages and beans and get with the salads! This evening I tried to put a bit of everything I had in the fridge on the plate. Red cabbage and carrot slaw with raisins, pine nuts and flaxseed and truffle oil, sprouted seeds, tomato and garlic salad, mixed leaf salad with balsamic dressing, mixed bean salad with herbs and homemade hummus with smoked paprika. The plate was a riot of colour and it felt great eating it. I am now inspired to experiment a bit more, I may even hide a rat in the bottom of the bowl!
A salad which is much favoured in France is made of witloof chicory, cut about one and a half inches long and mixed with a French salad dressing. A small piece of bread has previously been rubbed with garlic and is hidden in the bottom of the salad bowl. The French call this little piece of bread ‘the rat’. Isabelle Vischer
I made my own mincemeat this year and had some leftover veggie suet so I thought I would make dumplings. I thought it was going to be complicated but they are easy peasy. The stew was a new recipe for me cobbled together from various online sources. First make a roux (melt a dollop or marg in a pan and stir in a tablespoonful of flour). Heat it for a couple of minutes then throw in some small onions (halved or quartered depending on their size). Stir it around so the onion gets covered in the roux. Chuck in some large chunky veg: carrots, celery, cauliflower… whatever you fancy. Add some stock, slowly so the roux doesn’t go lumpy. Add enough stock so that the veg are just peeking out – they will relax down as they cook and the stock reduces. Add some herbs (I added a few sprigs of thyme then took them out at the end). If you want a hearty stew then stir in a tin of butterbeans or some other bean (borlotti or cannelinni beans would be OK). Now leave it on a low heat while you make your dumplings. I used 125g of plain flour with 1 large teaspoonful of baking powder and 50g veggie suet and some fresh thyme. Mix it all together then add a couple of tablespoonfuls of warm water and rub together to form a soft dough. You may need more water but don’t let it get soggy. Roll the dough into 8-10 small balls and plop them onto the top of your stew. Stick the pan in the oven (lid off if you like a crusty dumpling) and leave it on a low heat (100°C) while you nip down the pub for a swift pint. When you get home the house will small amazing! Turn the heat up to 180°C for a few minutes while you heat up some peas or broccoli and dish up your dumpling stew piping hot! Bloody lovely on a miserable grey January evening!
This is a great festive salad to perk you up after a big blow out roast! Wow your meaty friends with this vegan treat at a Boxing Day buffet when everyone is expecting cold greasy tasteless lumps of turkey! It is a riot of colour and flavour…
- 2 tins of vegetarian duck, sliced into strips
- 1 large handful of cashew nuts
- 1 teaspoon ground five-spice
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 4 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, such as chicory, rocket, spinach, watercress
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- ½ pomegranate
- For the dressing
- juice of 1 clementine
- juice of 1 lime
- ½ pomegranate
- ½ red onion, peeled and coarsely grated
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
Chop the veggie duck into thin strips and put into a pan on a medium heat. Add the cashew nuts and five-spice. Give it all a good stir, then let it toast away while you get on with your salad. Give the pan a shake every now and then to make sure nothing sticks or burns. Mix the coriander in a bowl with the mixed salad leaves. Make the dressing in a separate bowl by mixing the juice from the clementine and lime. Squeeze the juice from one of the pomegranate halves through your hands to catch any seeds then discard them. Stir in the grated onion. Add olive oil; use the same volume of virgin olive oil as you have juice so the volume of your dressing doubles. Add the soya sauce and sesame oil. Squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger into the dressing and discard the pulp. Stir and taste, you may need more soya sauce or lime juice. Drizzle over enough dressing to coat the salad leaves then toss. Add the syrup to the pan with the duck and stir through until coated. Turn the heat up for the last few seconds to crisp up the duck pieces. Loosely toss together the leaves and most of the duck and nuts then drop the remaining duck and nut mixture over the leaves. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the salad like little jewels! Garnish with some finely sliced red chilli and serve straight away! If you have thin crispy pancakes, all the better – this is great party food – guest can make their own pancakes at the table.
The filling in mince pies is called mincemeat as it used to have meat in it! Euuughw! Then from the mid-twentieth century the term was also used to describe a mixture that does not include meat but that might include animal fat in the form of suet. This can easily be substituted for vegetable suet which you can get in most supermarkets. Two essential treats in the warm up to Christmas include mince pies and mulled wine…here’s a recipe for mincemeat, I’ll get to the mulled wine later…
- 225g currants
- 170g raisins
- 170g sultanas
- 85g apricots
- 180g cooking apple, peeled and chopped
- 170g vegetable suet
- 100g roasted, chopped hazelnuts
- juice of ½ lemon
- juice and zest of ine small tangerine/clementine
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 50ml brandy
- 20ml port
- 170g dark brown sugar
Mix everything up in a big bowl and stand for an hour or two. Wash some glass jars in hot soapy water, rinse and heat at 180°C for five minutes. Let the jars cool then spoon the mixture in. Leave for at least two weeks.
A patia or pathia is a hot, sweet and sour curry made with chillies and vinegar. There are quite a lot of chillis in this recipe but the heat is offset by the sour tamarind and the sweetness of the sauce. The recipe is adapted from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. The directions are quite precise but try and follow it to the letter if you can and it will come out great!
- 10 small aubergines (~4-5 inches long)
- 1½ teaspoons tamarind paste
- 3-5 green chillies, chopped (depending on how hot you like it!)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ¾ tsp coriander powder
- ¾ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon jaggery
- 10 curry leaves
- a small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
- pinch of salt
- Cut the aubergines in half, sprinkle with salt and set aside in a bowl for 30 mins.
- Rinse the salt off the aubergines, pat dry and griddle on a medium heat until soft and slightly charred with a criss-cross pattern, set aside.
- Grind the green chillies, 2 of the garlic cloves and the cumin seeds into a paste.
- Heat the oil in a medium cooking pan and fry the onions until soft. Add the ground paste and fry for 2 minutes, stirring well.
- Add the cumin, coriander, red chilli, garam masala and turmeric. Stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add the tamarind, the jaggery, curry and cilantro leaves and salt. Taste and adjust the sour, sweet, and salt flavours to your liking. Add 200ml of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Lay the aubergines out flat in an oven dish and spoon the sauce over them. Leave some bits peeping out!
- Bake in a warm oven (150°C) for an hour until the sauce becomes sticky and starts to burn slightly at the edges.
- Serves with naan bread.
If you have watery tasteless tomatoes, roasting them can add a bit more flavour. Although not buying them in the first place would be a good move. I roasted these and chucked them on a plate with some wholemeal toast, smoked tofu (lightly fried) and some chopped avocado and coriander (cilantro). It made a very restpectable brunch – pretty good actually. It would be a good brunch to give to guests I reckon – a bit celebratory.
I went to a lovely local event in Barcelona organised by local neighbourhood project Recreant Cruïlles, who are running a campaign to reclaim land on an abandoned site for public use. They hope to gain use of the site of the former convent of the Germanetes dels Pobres (Little Sisters of the Poor), now an empty plot of approximately 5,000m2. Located at the junction of Carrer del Comte Borrell and Carrer del Consell de Cent, the empty site currently belongs to Barcelona City Council. The land was purchased by the city in 2006 with the intention of developing a range of public facilities necessary for the district, facilities which residents had demanded for a long time. However, these facilities were not built and the site remains empty (apart from a few private new builds). In addition the junction of these two streets is also the focus of a campaign by a number of Parents’ Associations from local schools and other local groups, gathered together by a project named CAMI AMIC (Friendly path). The focus of these demands has been the pedestrianisation of this area since most of the district’s public schools are located on these streets. Recreant Cruïlles is a group project working for the release of the Germanetes site. The collective bases its actions on the idea that empty spaces in the district represent a waste of resources, and that the district’s residents should own and manage them. The group calls for the participation of all residents and district associations to draft a self managed project for the site. www.recreantcruilles.wordpress.com
They cooked paella for 400 people and to my amazement and delight – it was vegan!