Coriander and Basil Pesto

IMG_2814Just a quick post, which, to put it bluntly, is just as much for your sake as mine. 😉 I tend to cook things and then completely forget what I did, you see, and this pesto is too good to be lost.

This is an adaptation of a recipe in the Veganomicon. Where they favour the basil, I prefer to use more coriander, and I have added nutritional yeast to give the pesto a more savoury flavour. Now I know that nutritional yeast is generally regarded as a scary vegan ingredient but it’s really brilliant stuff and a great sub for parmesan (vegetarian parmesan is hard to find over here).

So here goes:

Ingredients
15 g pack of basil, leaves roughly chopped
30 g coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped
1/3 cup – 35 g slivered almonds
1/3 cup – 10 g nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup – 60 ml extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
– Blitz all the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a smoothish paste in a food processor (I use my mini Magimix)
– Gradually pour in the olive oil while the machine is turning.

That’s it!

 

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All-in-One Tofu, Stir-Fried Vegetables and Noodle Dinner

IMG_2744Despite what you might have hoped, the ‘all-in-one’ in the title does not mean ‘one-pot’. But don’t despair, because it does mean that you only have to throw together one simple, gorgeous mixture that will be both your tofu marinade and wok sauce. I got the idea for this when I made the baked tofu from The Thug Kitchen Cookbook, a book I haven’t been able to stop cooking from since I was given it as a birthday present, last November. The marinade/wok sauce in this recipe is actually based on one of their baked tofu marinades.

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The difference is that, once the tofu is in the oven, I water down the marinade to make a wok sauce, which you then use to make what the Dutch call Tjap Tjoy and the Americans call Chop Suey. But what it’s in a name? It’s simply crisply stir-fried vegetables in a tasty, slightly thickened sauce, and one of my favourite Chinese takeaway dishes. Only the home-made version is much better and very easy to make. Add noodles and there’s your Asian feast. IMG_2728

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Two tips. As you can see, I chopped up my own vegetables (if only to live up to the title of my blog) but you could of course use a bag of ready-chopped vegetables of your choice. These vegetables tend to be chopped finer, so make sure you don’t overcook them. You want crisp greens in a sauce, not boiled veg.IMG_2741

I use a carbon steel wok on a wok burner, which means everything cooks very quickly. If you don’t have a wok burner, or use a non-stick wok (which shouldn’t be used on a very high heat, as I found out the hard way), you’ll need to cook the vegetables a bit longer.
Oh, almost forgot to say that the recipe for the Tjap Tjoy was inspired by my mum, who cooked something very similar for Christmas dinner, as part of a ‘rijsttafel’.


Ingredients

1 x 375 g pack of firm tofu, drained and sliced into (roughly) 2 cm slices. For instructions on draining tofu, look here.IMG_2727

Tofu Marinade/Wok Sauce

1/4 cup/60 ml soy sauce
1/4 cup/60 ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp pineapple juice
1 chunk of fresh ginger, grated (it should just about equal the amount of garlic, grated)
3 cloves of garlic, grated
splash of sesame oil
1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce (to taste, optional)

200 g brown rice noodles, or any noodle you prefer

100 g carrot, peeled and (reasonably) thinly sliced
150 g mushrooms (about 4 large ones), sliced
100 g mangetout, topped and tailed
100 g beansprouts

1 tbsp cornflour/starch, mixed with 1 tbsp of waterIMG_2734

Preparation

– Mix all the marinade ingredients, pour into a container that will fit the tofu in a single layer. Marinate the tofu strips in the fridge for 2-8 hours, turning once, if possible.
– Preheat your oven to 225C.
– Meanwhile, chop your veg.
– When the oven is hot, take the tofu slices out of the marinade, lay on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
– Hold back about three tbsp of the marinade, pour the rest in a measuring cup. It should make about 100 mls. Top up to 200 mls with water.
– When the tofu has had its 15 minutes, flip the slices and drizzle with half of the marinade you’ve held back. Put back in the oven for another five minutes, flip and drizzle again, give it another five.
– Meanwhile, boil water for your noodles, making sure it’s at the boil by the time your tofu is done.
– Take your tofu out of the oven and let cool while you cook your noodles according to packet instructions. This shouldn’t take longer than five minutes, during which time you cook your veg. Don’t worry about the tofu slices, they get a nice chew if you let them cool a bit.
– Put your wok on a high heat, add oil (anything but olive oil, really) and when it’s smoking hot, add all the vegetables except the beansprouts. Stir-fry for a few minutes, until partly cooked but still crisp.
– Turn down the heat a bit and (carefully) add the wok sauce. Bring to the boil.
– Stir and cook the vegetables for about a minute, then add the cornflour and bean sprouts.
– Stir well, then simmer for about one minute to let the sauce thicken to your liking.
– You can either stir the noodles into the vegetables or serve the vegetables and tofu slices on top of the noodles.
– Eat!

Prashad’s Paneer Skewers, or a Vegetarian’s Best Friend

IMG_2594Christmas has come and gone and now that the New Year has arrived, I thought I’d share a dish I made for Christmas and that I will be giving up in the new year (for a while, at least). Although I am not necessarily a cheese fiend, I do love Indian paneer cheese and these skewers really are a vegetarian’s best friend: they are absolutely delicious and will get you through many a barbecue.

About the giving up: I will be sticking to a vegan diet for the month of January. Not so much because I believe in New Year’s resolutions (although I did successfully give up smoking on New Year’s Day, years ago) but because I have been thinking about switching to veganism for a while now and January seems like a good month to try it out in. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes and what comes after.

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Back to the skewers. This recipe comes from the Prashad Cookbook, which I can’t recommend enough. Prashad is a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Bradford, West Yorkshire which has received high praise from Gordon Ramsay (who famously said he’d electrocute his own children if they ever turned vegetarian, bless him) and has won all sorts of awards and accolades. I have cooked at least half the recipes in the book and not a single one has disappointed. These paneer skewers, and the mushroom and spinach curry that I’ve chosen as my first evening meal in the new year, are two of my favourite recipes from the book, and I have made them many times over.

The skewers are made with paneer and vegetables that have been left to sit in a wonderful marinade for a few hours and are then grilled. Perfect for a barbecue, but as I usually cook these on a grill pan I had to make the veg fit the cubes of paneer (I use shop-bought, here). What I mean is that I had to cut the peppers and onions into very fine strips to prevent them sticking out, which in turn would prevent the paneer from touching the grill pan and cooking. My solution is to make a whole batch of the marinade but to marinate veg and paneer separately, in two bowls. I then cook the paneer on the grill pan and roast the veg in the oven and serve them together.IMG_2591

The flavours that hit you when you peel the foil of the bowls of paneer and vegetables is out of this world, and after grilling and roasting the cheese has a great ‘meaty’ chew and the veg is zingy and spicy. Perfect!IMG_2588-0

I am giving you a link to the recipe here, because I pretty much follow it to the letter. I do use a bit less oil and, as I said earlier, I divide the marinade between two bowls and let the peppers and onions and the Indian cheese soak up the flavours separately if I don’t intend to put the skewers on the barbecue. Grill the paneer skewers on a grill pan until hot and bearing griddle marks, and roast the veg on 200°C for 45-60 minutes until lightly scorched.

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