Avocado, Chipotle and Black Bean Quesadillas

img_2886First of all: Happy New Year! Secondly, I am crazy busy with work, so this is going to be a short one (yeah, it’s becoming a theme. I know ;-)).

So, these quesadillas: they’re loosely based on a quesadilla recipe that I had bought the ingredients for but which I then decided was too much work for lunch and adapted to my liking and workload.

img_2884A note on the chillies. I’ve used some chopped-up chipotle chillies in adobo sauce because I finally managed to get hold of a tin of those. If you don’t have them, use chipotle paste, or Sriracha with some smoked paprika for the smoky flavour. If you don’t like it hot, use only smoked paprika.

img_2885Ingredients for 2 quesadillas (one person)
2 flour tortillas
Dollop of chopped chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (or alternative, see above), to taste
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, flesh scooped out and mashed with a fork
Squeeze of lime juice (I used bottled)
Generous pinch of salt
3 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp black beans from a tin (I used a 100 g mini tin, drained weight 65 g)
2 tsp of nutritional yeast

Preparation
Heat your contact grill/sandwich maker to high.
Lay tortilla on a chopping board
Mix the mashed avocado with the lime juice and salt.
Smear one half of the tortilla with half the chipotles and their sauce (half because you’re making two quesadillas).
Top with half the avo mixture, half the coriander, half the beans. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of the nutritional yeast.
Fold over other half of the tortilla and grill until it shows griddle marks.
Eat and prepare the second quesadilla.

Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and Mushrooms

When it comes to social media, I have two favourites: Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook for keeping up with friends and following (mainly cooking) blogs and pages, Pinterest because it allows you to save and categorise recipes you find online with a few simple clicks. But that ease can also have drawbacks, as I sometimes pin dishes that look good but disappoint when I actually read the whole recipe.

Which is what happened this week, when I got ready to cook a promising-looking chickpea soup from one of my boards and then realised that the flavours clashed (even just on paper), the cooking method didn’t work for me… in short that I would cook an entirely different soup. So that is what I did, with mainly store cupboard ingredients. I hope you like it.

Ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp coarse sea salt, or to taste
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
250 ml coconut milk
1 cup/140 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered till tender, about an hour and 15 minutes, depending on how ‘fresh’ they are. Don’t add salt. (Cooked weight about 290 g, you could use the same amount of tinned chickpeas)
200 g mushrooms, quartered
generous squeeze of lemon juice
fresh coriander, chopped

Preparation
– Cook your soaked chickpeas (unless you’re using tinned ones, of course).
– Heat a generous glug of oil in a medium-sized pot on a medium heat. When nice and hot, add cumin seeds, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Stir for a few seconds, then add the onion and cook until soft.
– Turn the heat down, stir in garlic, ground spices and salt, fry and stir for about 30 seconds.
– Add coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and mushrooms.
– Bring to the boil, then simmer (I use a flame diffuser) for 15 minutes.
– Add lemon juice and more salt if needed.
– Serve, sprinkled with the coriander.

Polish Pierogi, Vegan Style

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I first ate pierogi about five years ago, when my friend Alina made them for me. They were a vegetarian’s dream: gorgeous pillows of thin dough filled with either mushrooms and sauerkraut or mashed potato, fried onion and ‘twaróg’ (Polish white cheese). I can imagine they were also dreamy for my friend, who was feeding a large group of people, with me being the only vegetarian. The great thing about dumpling-type food is that you can adapt the filling to your guests’ diets and preferences.img_1774
Since then I’ve eaten many a pierogi and, as much as I love both mushrooms and sauerkraut, the potato and cheese ones quickly became my favourite. But then I went vegan and, well, egg in the dough, cheese in the filling… It looked like my pierogi days were over.
Cue aquafaba. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s the cooking liquid of chickpeas (and other beans/pulses), which acts just like egg in lots of dishes and bakes. One of the first things I used it in was a vegan cake, which turned out absolutely perfect, but then I realised it might also work in pierogi dough. img_1784And you guessed it, it worked a treat. I added 6 tablespoons of aquafaba (or ‘AF’), the equivalent of two eggs, to a dumpling recipe I found in Sally Butcher’s ‘Veggiestan’, and the result was a brilliant soft, pliable dough.img_1786

Now the second challenge was the filling, which my friend makes ’60/40′,  meaning 6 parts potato to 4 parts cheese. I decided to try substituting the cheese with soy yogurt and again: bullseye!img_1789Together, dough and filling form delicious vegan pierogi, which I feel are in no way inferior to the original. My Polish friend, who introduced me to pierogi, agrees. 🙂 img_1792A note on how you cook these: you can boil, bake or fry them (and steam, I’ll bet). I tend to go for healthy options when it comes to food, but I really feel these are best when fried in oil, like I’ve done here.img_1800


Makes about 30 pierogi

Ingredients

For the filling
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
200 g soy yoghurt (I think oat yogurt would also work, but it might need a squeeze of lemon juice, as it’s a bit sweeter)
salt, plenty of (to taste)
pepper, not too much (to taste)

For the doughimg_1808500 g all-purpose flour
1 level tsp fine salt
2 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
90 ml/6 tbsps aquafaba (simply pour straight from a tin of chickpeas into a measuring cup)
160 ml water

Preparation
I start by making the filling (but feel free to start with the dough, it needs resting).
– Boil the potatoes for 15/20 minutes, until cooked through.
– Meanwhile, fry the onion in a bit of oil until slightly brown around the edges. Set aside.
– When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash with the soy yogurt, salt and pepper.
– Stir the fried onions into the filling mixture.
– Check seasoning (it should be a quite salty, imo) and set aside, covered.

I use my standing mixer for the dough, but you can also make it by hand
– Put the flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer.
– Combine aquafaba and water. I put the AF in a jug, then top up with water to the 250 ml mark.
– Using the paddle attachment, mix flour and salt.
– Leave the machine running while you add the oil and then gradually pour in the AF/water mixture. The dough should just come together. Add a sprinkling of water if it doesn’t, but not too much(!); it should not be as wet as bread dough.
– Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
– Once kneaded, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

– Take a clump of dough (about 22 g), flatten it into a disc and roll out to about 10 cm on a (very) lightly floured surface. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the disc.
– Pick up the disc with the filling on it and, using your fingertips, gently pull the dough over the filling and pinch it shut (think pasty, empanada, etc.). Then take a 6 cm round ravioli cutter or a glas with a 6 cm diameter and cut the edges off your dumpling, creating a neat pierogi that won’t open while you cook it. (see photos).
– Heat a layer of oil in a wide frying pan and put in half a batch (about 15) of pierogi. Fry for a few minutes until golden, flip and fry for a few more minutes.
– Take the pierogi out of the pan and drain on kitchen towel before serving.

Asian-Themed Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

IMG_0222If necessity is the mother of all invention, abundance is definitely its father, especially in the kitchen. In this case, abundance came in the shape of a bag of Brussels sprouts that needed using up. In my enthusiasm (I always go a bit mad when sprouts are back in season) I overstocked, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it forces you to be creative. So I came up with this autumny/wintery Asian-style risotto.

I say ‘Asian-style’ because a vegan risotto with a list of ingredients that includes sprouts, sake and coriander is by definition a multi-continental, hybrid dish. Which, by the way, goes for a lot of vegetarian and vegan cooking of the non-potato-veg-and-fake-meat variety. And that’s just one of the things that, for me, makes it such a great way of cooking and eating.

Okay, I’ll end the plug there. 😉

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I’ve used garlic and chilli oil here, instead of fresh. One, because it’s easy and lazy, and two because grated garlic tends to burn/stick in my Le Creuset pan unless I use more oil than I want to. The ginger, if chopped not too finely, can stand the heat a bit better. You could of course use a fresh chilli, chilli flakes (or even chilli sauce) instead of the oil. IMG_0215

I only have two rules when it comes to making risotto: make sure your stock is piping hot, so you don’t bring down the temperature of the pan as you add it, and start tasting your rice after about 15 minutes to see if it’s done. As usual, I sauté the mushrooms first. It’s not a rule, but I do feel it really adds to the flavour and texture of the finished dish.
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IngredientsIMG_0203

olive oil
250 g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
generous splash of garlic oil
smaller splash of chilli oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly chopped ginger (very fine strips)
125 g risotto rice
a nice slosh of sake
225 g of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 litre hot mushroom stock
handful of chopped coriander

PreparationIMG_0210

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms on a medium-high heat. You want to get some caramelisation going, so don’t put them on too low. Set aside once cooked but not mushy.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat garlic and chilli oil.
  • When hot, add the shallots and ginger. Fry until softened.
  • Add the risotto rice and fry, stirring, for a few minutes.
  • Pour in the sake and let evaporate while stirring.
  • Throw in the sliced sprouts and add your first ladleful of stock.
  • Stir until the pan is almost dry, add stock, stir until almost… etc, etc.
  • After about fifteen minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan and keep stirring.
  • Cook, tasting every now and again, until the rice is done to your liking.
  • Sprinkle over the coriander.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

IMG_4270As much as I love the spinach and mushrooms in this lasagne, the red pepper sauce is the star of this dish. It’s my take on a sauce in Mildreds, The Cookbook, where it’s served with penne and boiled vegetables. Even if you don’t fancy cooking or eating lasagne right now, do give the sauce a try. I was instantly addicted, and a batch of this (divided into 4 portions) is now a staple in my freezer. IMG_4268 To make the sauce lighter (and vegan), I use soy cream instead of the double cream they use at Mildreds. I’ve also adapted the recipe to fit whole tins and jars. It could just be me, but one roasted pepper or one tomato left in a tin usually ends up mouldy in my fridge. IMG_4263 A note on pasta sheets: I’ve used shop-bought ‘fresh’ ones (eerily long shelf life, though) that don’t require pre-cooking. In my experience, whether or not you have to pre-boil lasagne sheets depends on the brand you use, and on the cooking time. I tend not to boil them first, even with dried ones, unless they are very thick.


Ingredients IMG_4261 For the sauce  – 1 onion, chopped – 1 celery stick, chopped – 1 carrot, peeled and grated (the one I used was 165 g, unpeeled weight) – 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely – 400 g tin of whole tomatoes – 350 g roast peppers (I used a 465 g jar with brine, undrained weight), roughly chopped – 1 tsp (coconut flower) sugar – 1 tsp coarse sea salt – freshly ground black pepper – 250 ml soy cream You’ll probably have about 1/4 of the sauce left after building your lasagne. Fridge or freeze for later use. It will be like having money in the bank, believe me. For the lasagne – 500 g fresh spinach leaves (I always chop fresh spinach so it doesn’t clump together so much ) – 400 mushrooms, sliced not too thinly – lasagne sheets PreparationIMG_4253 – Preheat oven to 200°C – Start by making the sauce. In a large pan, fry onion, celery and carrot in oil until softened. – Add the garlic and fry for one more minute. – Add all the other sauce ingredients, except the cream. – Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes (lid off) – Stir in the cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. – Blitz the sauce with a (stick) blender and set aside. – Wash your pan and wilt the spinach in it. In a sieve, press out the excess moisture with the back of a spoon (or just squeeze with your hands). Set aside. – In the same pan, fry the mushrooms in oil (I use chilli oil here) until softened but not cooked through. Drain in a sieve. -Build your lasagne in a rectangular oven dish (the bottom of the one I used measures 16×25 cm). Start with a layer of sauce, followed by  1/4 of the spinach and mushrooms and lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with a layer of pasta sheets topped with sauce. – Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. – Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. – Take the dish out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into the lasagne.

Gado-Gado with my Satay Sauce

IMG_4033Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish made with mixed boiled or steamed vegetables, fried tofu, and boiled eggs, served with a peanut (‘satay’) sauce. I was never a fan of the dish until I tried Ottolenghi’s version of it, from his Plenty book. It taught me that it’s the satay sauce that makes the gado-gado. And Ottolenghi’s satay sauce is very, very good. But it’s also a lot of work, comes with a long list of ingredients, and has a grainy texture I don’t really like, due to the peanuts and stalk of lemon grass he uses.

So I wanted to create a satay sauce that was easier to make but at least at delicious. And I think I’ve succeeded! My recipe is a bit of a Frankenstein monster; part Ottolenghi, part River Cottage Meat Book (ironically), and part my own invention. Stitch it all together, bit of lightning and there you have it.IMG_4020

I’ve left out the eggs in this gado-gado to make it vegan, but traditionally they are part of the dish. Add them or leave them out, use them instead of the tofu, play around with the vegetables (although I think the potatoes are key), as long you smother it all in the luscious peanut sauce. I often make this to use up vegetables that are lurking in the fridge. The satay sauce is good over everything, and having a tub of it in the freezer is like having money in the bank.IMG_4027


Serves 2 generouslyIMG_4025
Ingredients

For the satay sauce
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
– 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped (or any chilli you like, seeds in or out)
– 2 tbsp ketjap manis ( a sweet, Indonesian soy sauce)
– 1 tbsp regular soy sauce
– 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (ready-made, from a jar)
– 125 g smooth peanut butter
– 1 tsp lemongrass powder
– 50 ml coconut milk
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– water

For the gado-gado
– 4 smallish potatoes (350-400 g), cut into quarters
– 200 g green beans, topped and tailed (cleaned weight)
– 150 g cabbage leaf, cut into long, fine strips
– 180 g tofu bits, fried (I use mildly spiced ones from the supermarket)
– cassava crackers

Preparation
– In a small saucepan, fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a splash of oil until soft.
– Add all the other ingredients, except the water, and bring to the boil.
– Carefully stir in water until you have a pourable/saucy consistency, but don’t go overboard(!).
– Turn off the heat, cover, and put aside.
– Put the potatoes in a medium-sized pot, cover generously with water, add some salt and bring to the boil.
– Boil for 10 minutes, then add green beans.
– Boil for 4 minutes, add cabbage and boil for 1 more minute or until the cabbage is tender but still has some bite.
– Meanwhile, fry tofu bits in a bit of oil and reheat satay sauce, if needed.
– Drain the vegetables and spread out on a large serving dish. Scatter over the tofu bits, pour over satay sauce and serve with cassava crackers.

Basic Home-Made Tomato Soup

IMG_3411Tomato soup is everywhere; on restaurant and cafeteria menus, tinned or bagged on shelves in supermarkets, in powdered form, in powdered one-mug form… And in my experience, nine times out of ten it’s a complete let-down. The last tomato soup I ate in a lunchroom was probably just tomato purée watered down, then smothered in cream. I’m pretty sure no fresh tomato ever went near it. IMG_3391

Why is that, when nothing could be easier than making a basic fresh tomato soup? I suspect it has a lot to do with many people being completely out of touch with proper, home-made food and not knowing how things are actually supposed to taste.

But I’m not here to preach, I am here to give you a basic, yet delicious, recipe for freshly-made tomato soup. 😉 So here goes.


IMG_3437Ingredients
500 g tomatoes (about six medium-sized ones)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbs tomato purée
750 ml vegetable stock

Preparation
– Slash the tops of the tomatoes cross-wise with a sharp knife and put them in a snug-fitting bowl or container. Pour on enough boiling water to cover and let stand for a few minutes.
– Drain tomatoes and skin them when cool enough to handle.
– Roughly chop the tomatoes (I use the food processor for this).
– Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes.
– Add the tomato purée and fry for a few more minutes.
– Stir in tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer, lid on, for about 20 minutes.
– Let cool slightly and blitz with stick blender, food processor, whatever you have.
– Reheat and serve.