Monday, 1 July 2013

Food Revival

I know I've been scarce the last few months. Work has been crazy and I've been very busy! I've got mountains of food photos and weekly menus that I can put up on the blog so I'm really excited to be posting some today.
On a side note, Damon and I found a deli (Norfolk Deli) in Cambridge, UK that sells South African food - very excited to find Mrs Balls Chutney, Rusks, Droewors and pap!

South African deli in Cambridge

Yesterday I cooked up a storm and I decided to share some of the recipes with you!

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon served with rye bread toast, goat's cheese and Roasted Lemon Chutney.

Roasted Lemon Chutney - make this one first because it has to rest for 2 hours. From Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks. 

Roasted Lemon Chutney - nom nom!

1/4 cup finely sliced shallots
3 small unwaxed lemons (+1 lemon for the juice)
1/4 cup olive oil, and more for brushing
1 Tbsp honey (and more to taste)
Salt and Pepper
Optional: 2Tbsp chopped basil or mint

How to?
Preheat the oven to 200C with space for an oven rack in the middle. Line an oven rack with a baking sheet.
Soak the sliced shallots in some cold water to reduce the strong flavour.
Slice the 3 lemons (getting rid of the end pith slice - not tasty!) into 5mm thick slices, remove the seeds with the tip of the knife. Spread flat on the baking sheet. Brush olive oil on each slice of lemon, turn over and brush the other side.
Roast the lemons for 10 minutes, then turn them around and roast for another 10-15 minutes until the lemons are soft but not brown. Take out the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.
Put all the lemon slices into a blender/food processor. Drain the shallots and add to the blender with the honey. Pulse several times until the lemon slices are roughly chopped.
Add half the lemon juice and the olive oil. Pulse until it becomes creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust by adding more lemon juice and/or honey to your taste - keep tweaking until it's perfect for you!

Red Lentil with Lemon - from Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks.
2 cups red lentils
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 cup chopped coriander
3 lemons, juiced, or to taste

1 large bunch of spinach or chard - chopped and wilted in some butter with a pinch of salt

cooked (brown) rice, to serve
Greek yoghurt, to serve

How to?
Cook the lentil in 7 cups of water, adding 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the turmeric in the last 5 minutes so not to cook it too much or it will go bitter. Puree the mix and add more water and/or salt as needed.
While the lentils cook, heat up the remaining butter and cook the onion with the cumin powder and mustard seeds until translucent and softened. Add the chopped coriander and cook for a few seconds only.
Add the onion mixture to the soup, then add the lemon juice - little by little, to your taste.
Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve by putting a spoonful of cooked rice in a bowl, pour soup, add the spinach and a spoonful of yoghurt (you can also add a little bit of the roasted lemon chutney!).

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

New blog format

As most of you have noticed, I have been rather scarce on the blog for the last few months. It's been quite time consuming to write up the recipes from scratch every night after dinner so I've decided to post pictures of what we're having for dinner and a link of where to find the recipe. Let me know if that's alright or if you'd rather I posted the full recipe on the blog. 

I'll add a few tips and any changes I've made to the recipes to make it extra easy and yummy for you guys.

For my first updated food post, I'll simply post about what I ate today:

For lunch, I made Millet Croquettes and Parmesan Celery Salad. It does sound really healthy (which it is!) but it's also really tasty.
Changes: For the Millet Croquette, I followed the instructions to make the batter and then baked it straight away - with 3 eggs mixed in - until the top was golden brown and crispy. As you'll see in her recipe, there is a whole process I didn't have time to do so I left it out. Simply baking it also uses less fat and thus makes it more healthy!
The Celery Salad is surprisingly tasty and super easy to do! Let it sit for about 20 minutes before serving so the celery has time to soak up all the lemon and olive oil flavours.

Parmesan Celery Salad
After lunch, I was still hungry and craving chocolate so I turned to one of my favourite, 'guilt-free' dessert blogs (that also happens to be vegan!) - Chocolate Covered Katie for yet another great recipe of Brownie Batter Pancakes! I do tend to follow her recipes to the letter, especially with regards to the quantities, otherwise things can taste a bit funny. I did add a bit more sugar though....

Brownie batter pancakes with Millet Croquettes in the background
For dinner, I used up the last of our butternut making this delicious Borlotti Bean and Squash Mole.
Feel free to leave out the cocoa if you're not a big fan of mole (Damon isn't but I still managed to sneak a bit of cocoa in the dish and he liked it :-)
Changes: The original recipe asks to bake for 2 hours - again, for time constraints, I didn't. I left it on very low heat in the pan for an extra 15 minutes and it came out delicious. Serve with some bread to scoop up all the delicious sauce.

Borlotti Bean and Squash Mole

Hope you guys enjoyed this post - let me know if I can edit anything. I'll try to post daily or at least weekly from now on :-)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tomato Kurma with Leek Kulsha - Indian Food Week

I have writer's block tonight, probably due to the Brewer's Gold, Timmermans Faro and Boon Oude Gueuze that I drank earlier at the Kingston Arms, Cambridge. I'd recommend all 3 to anyone who enjoys a good beer (or 2 or 3!)
So for a quick-ish post tonight, I made Tomato Kurma with Leek and Paneer Kulcha (stuffed Indian breads). It was the first time I made Kulcha and they are absolutely amazing!

Tomato Kurma I know that this dish is only supposed to contain tomatoes, but to make it a bit healthier I added peas and carrots to it.  I'm sure it would be delicious with fresh tomatoes only, but the UK isn't known for its bright red, juicy, tasty tomatoes in Spring so I added a tin of plum tomatoes to the sauce as well. 

Tomato Kurma with Leek Kulcha

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Lentil Dumpling Curry and Cabbage and Fennel Stirfry - Indian Food Week

I know I should have posted a recipe last night but we got side-tracked and ended up ordering pizza with Damon's colleagues instead... For those in the UK, check out the nutritional information for Domino's pizzas, I almost had a heart attack when I did!

Today's Indian food recipes are quite different from the ones most people are used to. The stir-fry is different from usual Asian stir-fries - it doesn't use any sauce, only fried spices. The curry is from South Indian cuisine - the flavours are more subtle and the texture less creamy.

Today was uncharacteristically (long word!) sunny and warm in Cambridge - 10C warmer than on the same day last year! We decided to take our Indian stir fry along for a cycle to Grantchester Meadows and frolick along the river Cam. For those audiophiles out there, Grantchester Meadows is indeed a Pink Floyd song from Ummagumma.

Cycling at Grantchester Meadow

Cabbage and Fennel Stir-fry
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil/Olive oil
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 Onion, sliced thinly
1 Fennel, sliced thinly
1 Star Anise seed
1 small Green Cabbage, cut thinly
1 tsp Chilli Powder or Cayenne Powder
1/2 tsp Salt (or more if you're a salt fan)
Juice of a Lemon
1 tsp Garam Masala

Stir-fry with Quorn burgers and home-made cranberry green ice-tea
How to:
Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat and toast the seeds until they start to crackle.
Add the onion, fennel and star anise, cook for 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and golden.
Add the cabbage and cook until it is wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the chilli powder and salt and mix well.
Cook for another few minutes, then add the lemon juice and garam masala. Mix well and serve with some (veggie) burgers or use as a side for other dishes.

Lentil Dumplings Curry (Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu)
This recipe was inspired from this food blog
I know it seems rather intimidating but this recipe is actually pretty straight forward, uses a lot of the same ingredients in different ways. We had it ready in no time and it was delicious! 
Lentil Dumpling Curry - ready to be eaten!
Curry Paste:
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds or Powder
2 Red Chillies - you can replace some of the chillies with tomato paste if you don't want it to be too spicy but want to keep the paste consistency
1 tsp Cumin Seeds or Powder
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds
1/4 cup Grated Coconut

For the dumplings:
1 cup Toor Dal (or lentils if you cannot get hold of it), soaked in water for a couple of hours
1/2 Red Onion, roughly
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Red Chilli
 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Handful fresh Coriander
Salt to taste

For the Curry Sauce:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Mustard
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Curry Leaves - I used dried curry leaves but you could use fresh ones or even Curry Powder
1 Red Onion, chopped
1 small piece Ginger, crushed into a paste
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 tin chopped Tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 tsp Tamarind Extract (you can also soak a small ball of Tamarind paste in some hot water and use the juice squeezed from the paste) - this really gave the dish an interesting taste. If you cannot get hold of any, you could potentially add a teaspoon of brown sugar but it will not add any subtle flavour to the dish.

How to:
First, blend the curry paste ingredients and keep aside.
Blend the dal until it becomes a chunky paste - if it's not blended enough, the dumplings won't hold nicely. Put the dal into a large bowl and set aside. Blend the rest of the dumpling ingredients and mix them well in the dal.
Shape into squash ball-sized dumplings. Steam the dumplings for about 10 minutes. You could potentially skip the steaming step and cook them in the sauce instead, but the dumplings might not hold.
Dumplings - straight after steaming

While the dumplings are steaming, make the curry sauce.
Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the mustard, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. Cook until they start to splatter. Then add the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion becomes translucent.
Add the tomatoes and salt, cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the spice mix and a cup of water. Cook until slightly reduced but still saucy. 
If, like me, you prefer a smooth curry sauce, you can blend it slightly at this point - watch out though because the sauce will be hot!
Add the tamarind, mix well. Add the dumplings in the sauce and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes. Serve with brown basmati rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Paneer Makhni - Indian Food Week Day 1

As promised, I'm going to post a week's worth of Indian food recipes - from Korma to Bhaji, including Parathas and Kulcha.
These recipes are not meant to be easy or quick (well, maybe except this first one...) - it's more of an experiment with flavours.
If you'd like tips on quick Indian food and how to prepare the basic sauce in advance to save time, see my earlier post on curries. I will try to keep these recipes as simple as I can make them and hope that you guys try them out too and let me know how they turn out!

Paneer Makhni
Nom nom nom - that's all I have to say!

Paneer Makhni ingredients

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Easy Tasty Dinners

I have been rather lazy these last few days so the 2 recipes below are easy, tasty, lazy food!
But my laziness is only short-lived as I will be starting my Indian Food Week tomorrow! I've been shopping for spices online and I'm going to experiment with Indian food and try to make as many different types of curries as possible, all in one week so keep checking this page!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Post St Patrick's Day Hot Chocolate

Saturday was my first official St Patrick's Day in Cambridge and we decided to celebrate by having a braai (read barbecue) at our house. Thanks to everyone who could make it - it was such a fun party!
After most big parties, the best thing is comfort food. After St Patty's Day, I made Hot Chocolate, Spicy Stifry and Caponata (Sicilian Aubergine Stew) and hung around the garden reading "A Clash of Kings" - the second Game of Thrones book.

Coconut Hot Chocolate
While sitting outside on Sunday reading my book in the Spring sun, I had this craving for hot chocolate! Though after the previous night's Guiness drinking, I couldn't have handled a heavy hot chocolate so I decided to try and make a light yet chocolatey drink!

My reading spot in our garden 

The coconut milk really adds a nice, exotic flavour to this hot chocolate but you can use any kind of milk though dairy will make it heavier.
 Ingredients: (for 2 people)
2 cups Coconut Milk (or any non-dairy milk to make it lighter)
2 heaped tsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Almond Butter (you can leave this out)
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar or enough sugar/sweetener for your taste
A few drops of Vanilla Essence
Optional: 1/2 tsp corn flour diluted in some hot water- if you like thick hot chocolate, otherwise leave out.

Coconut Hot Chocolate

How to:
Mix everything in a pan and bring to the boil, mixing well when boiling point approaches.
Pour in cups and enjoy warm!

Cabbage and Carrot Stirfry
One of my best comfort foods is a bowl of (leftover) stir-fry with noodles, eaten with chop sticks! You can pretty much use any vegetables with this basic sauce. You can add more spices/ingredients to the sauce if you like, just experiment!
Stir-fry served with black rice noodles, topped with some grated beetroot

1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Red Chillies
4-5 Carrots, chopped into thin sticks
A small head of Cabbage. shredded into small strands
One Leek
Any other vegetable including Spinach, Bean Sprouts...
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 cm piece Ginger, crushed
2 Tbsp Soya Sauce
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
 1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock
1 tsp Brown Sugar or Agave Nectar
1 Tbsp Pea/Whey Protein or 1 tsp Cornflour
Any type of noodles you like - Soba Noodles are delicious!
How to:
Heat up the sesame oil in a large pan or wok. Stir-fry the chillies and vegetables on medium heat for a few minutes.
In the meantime, mix up the rest of the ingredients (except noodles, of course) to make the sauce. Cook the noodles in some boiling water according to instructions.
Pour the sauce over the vegetable and cook for a minute until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve in a bowl with vegetables spooned over noodles. You can add some more soya sauce if you'd like.

I usually also make some marinated tofu to go with this dish but we didn't have any tofu that night so I left it out.
A block of tofu, chopped into cubes
2 Tbsp Soya Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Brown Sugar or Agave Nectar
How to:
Heat oven to 200C. Put the tofu cubes in an oven-proof dish.
Mix up all the sauce ingredients and pour over the tofu. You can let the tofu sit for an hour if you want a stronger taste.
Grill the tofu in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tofu is golden brown, mixing the cubes up halfway.

This is a Sicilian Aubergine Stew traditionally seasoned with sweet vinegar and capers. I replaced the capers with olives since they're cheaper. You can serve it as a starter, spooned on some bread or as a main with rice or pasta.
Caponata - to be served with flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Aubergine
1 small Onion, chopped finely
2 cloves of Garlic, crushed
2 handfuls ripe Cherry Tomatoes, chopped into quarters
10 Olives (kalamata or green, pitted and chopped up)
1 tsp Dried Oregano
A handful Flat-Leaf Parsley, stems chopped small and leaves chopped
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
How to:
Chop up the aubergine into medium-sized pieces; too small pieces will soak up too much oil and become soggy.
Heat up the oil on medium-high heat and add the aubergines, oregano and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing every now and again until the aubergines are light brown.
Add the onion, garlic and parsley stems. Cook for a few more minutes.
Add the chopped olives, cook for a minute then add the cherry tomatoes and vinegars.
Cook until it reaches a thick consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve with the flat-leaf parsley and some toasted bread.