Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Salad Leaves and Pea Shoots

I realise its been a bit monotone on my blog recently, so I thought I'd share a little colour compliments of my garden plot and the sunshine that's been teasing us on and off.
There has been some progress since I last stepped out into it.  The salad leaves are starting show off their many shades of green.  The salad and radish bed is looking good, except for my rocket that has been a bit slow to take off the ground!
Some of the peas have come up.  These will soon feature on our plate.
First of the strawberries peeking through.  As there are not that many growing, I hope I get to them first, before the beasties in my garden. The Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes seem to be growing well, but unlike fellow growers down South, mine have yet to flower.

We've had so much rain the past two weeks, that the grass needs cutting again, but it will have to wait when we come back.  We are due to be travelling down South again the next couple of days.  D's mother has fractured her wrist and it will be in plaster for six weeks. D would have been down there in a shot, but we've both had a stinky cold the past few days, and the last thing we want to do is pass our germs on. So chances are we may be travelling down tomorrow or the day after.
Me - pulling out some weeds from a herb pot.  Above by my head, the wild strawberries in the hanging basket haven't fared well. The hanging baskets are looking a bit knackered too as the birds have been stealing  the wood fibre lining from it for there nests - they do it every year.
I grew these lupins from seed.  I absolutely adore them, but I think the bees in my garden adore them more than me.

Carob Flake Slices

I picked up a packet of carob flakes from a health shop when I was in the city of Aberdeen last year.  Its been lost in the abyss of my cupboards since.  I was only reminded of its existence in my home when I was wading my way through the shelves, searching for the Black Buckwheat flour for the savoury waffles I made earlier this week.

Anyway, now with the Carob flakes placed in front of my eyes, my thoughts were What to do with it now?
Some kind of chocolate chip cakey thing.  I'd describe these rather generous slabs as a cross between a bar and a slice. I actually preferred eating these Carob Flake slices a day or two later, as the flavours seemed to meld better.

I remember being fascinated the first time I saw Carob beans growing on trees in Cyprus - turning from vibrant green pod to a floppy black bean pod.  Carob powder can be; and is often used as a substitute for cocoa, as is carob chips as chocolate chips, or flakes in this case.  Its flavour is also often compared to the sweetness of chocolate, but I think its actually very subtle like dates.  It also has an earthiness, a bit like coffee that will not be to every ones taste.
Carob Flake Slices
Makes 9 – 12 slices
Ingredients
400g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teas bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
300g golden caster sugar
250ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250ml soy milk
180g carob flakes, chips (or dark chocolate)
Oil for coating the baking tin
Method
Preheat oven to gas mark 4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. Make a well in the flour and add the oil, vanilla, milk and carob flakes and stir well until mixed. Pour the mixture onto an oiled 9 x 13 inch tin. You will need to use a spatula to scoop all the mixture into the baking tin, then flatten evenly.
Bake in oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if baked through. Let it cool for 20 – 30 minutes, before slicing.  Adapted from How it all Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Barley and Chestnut Mushroom Stew

I know the food featured on my blog the past few days has not been the most vibrant, but sadly its just reflecting the weather around me that continues to be cold, windy and blustery. The harsh wind has battered most of the green leaves from my apple tree (that was strategically blocking the view of the commuter trains passing by). I've also wanted to share some photographs of progress in the garden plot, but every time we've attempted to point the camera at something, whether it be a chive flower head or the potato foliage, they flop manically in the gushing wind.

For the past few days, I've also been wandering the flat with a crocheted shawl wrapped over my shoulders.  D's been teasing me saying I should play a character in the Little House on the Prairie.  I'm just nippy (cold) and feeling a little on the wimpy side.
Anyway, here is another example of food to warm you up from the inside: Barley and Chestnut Mushroom Stew.  Its ridiculous really, I mean, its nearly June and I'm still tucking into autumnal, bordering on wintry fare.
I have to say I enjoyed this stew moreso on the first day, than the second where it supped up all the juices and seems a lot more stodgier.
Barley and Chestnut Mushroom Stew
Serves 4 – 6
Ingredients
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
160g pearl barley
1 generous teaspoon cumin, toasted
Splash of hot sauce to taste
1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ¼-1¾pint vegetable stock
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Method
Heat the oil in a large pot, sauté the onions until soft, then add the carrots, garlic and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms become tender. Add the barley, cumin, hot sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste and stock. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Add the chickpeas and cook for 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked. Serve with a crusty bread.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Aubergine and Chickpea Kibbeh

A few weeks ago, I found myself perched on the settee watching one of the satellite food channels, showing an American celebrity chef checking out fast food outlets. In this one episode, he was at a Lebanese cafe. The chef showed a tray of baked Kibbeh. This way of making kibbeh was completely new to me, I’ve always known kibbeh to be torpedo shaped shells filled with minced meat or vegetables – taking time, effort and a lot of love to make.

Kibbeh is a middle eastern snack. For those of you not familiar with kibbeh, well think of falafels. But these are made with fine Bulgar wheat. The outer shell made from Bulgar wheat is shaped into a torpedo and then filled with minced meat, pine nuts and then deep fried. Nowadays, you will find so many variations, including vegetarian versions: red lentils, pumpkin, spinach, raisins, labneh, feta, mint and walnuts.

Well I thought, I’d have a go at making Kibbeh using the minimalist approach - as a tray bake. In this version I have used chickpeas and aubergines, two popular Middle Eastern ingredients.  I suppose I could have used TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein aka soya mince in place of the minced meat, but I am still working my way through my pantry, plus aubergines are in season. 
It is said that the best way to eat traditional Kibbeh is wrapped inside a lavash or pitta bread. However as I have chosen to make it in the style of a tray bake. Perhaps the best way to serve this one up is with some salad and a light tahini or pomegranate dressing.

The Aubegine and Chickpea Kibbeh tasted like grainy savoury pilau – delicate flavours of cumin coming through, velvety texture of the aubergines and crunch form the pine nuts.  Although the textures and flavours were warming, I have to admit I wasn't completely satisfied with final result.  For a start it looked rather sandy, not very appealing to the eyes.  Secondly, the Kibbeh fell apart when served. I think I will have to have another go at Kibbeh, just with a different recipe, or even have a go at making Kibbeh in the traditional manner - as deep fried torpedo's.
Aubergine and Chickpea Kibbeh
Serves 6
Ingredients
100g fine Bulgar wheat
450ml hot water
1 x 400g can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 generous teaspoon ground allspice
½ - 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and minced
1 medium aubergine, chopped
55g pine nuts
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup or lemon juice
Method
Place the Bulgar in a heatproof bowl. Add the hot water and let it stand for 20 minutes. Drain well to remove excess water. Return to the bowl. Coarsely chop the chickpeas and add to the Bulgar. Add the spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a wide pan. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened. Add the aubergine and continue to cook stirring now and again until the aubergines are tender. Stir int he pine nuts and syrup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Press half of the Bulgar-chickpea mixture into the bottom of a lightly oiled  baking dish, smoothing the top. Add the aubergine mixture, then cover evenly with the remaining Bulgar-chickpea mixture, pressing down until smooth. Bake until hot and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Adapted from Vegan Planet.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Porridge Waffles

No stirring with a Scottish spurtle* required for this porridge recipe.
These crispy pillows of softness smelled like porridge and tasted like porridge, but of course it wasn’t porridge as we know it - these were Porridge Waffles.
I like my porridge with grated apples, so here I decided to scatter some over the waffles.  

These porridge waffles were excellent and proved to be a good base for supping up some of our home made curds and jellies, in this case the last remnants of the Banoffee Curd.  I have to say, this is perhaps the easiest recipe for waffles I have ever come across. All you need is a food processor, you throw in the ingredients, give it a whiz then pour onto your waffle iron.
Porridge Waffles
Makes 4
Ingredients
110g/1 cup rolled oat flakes
70g/½ cup plain flour
½ pint/1 ¼ cups water
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons agave syrup, maple syrup (or runny honey)
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Method
In a food processor, add the ingredients and then blend until roughly smooth. Ladle into a well oiled waffles iron. Cook according to waffle iron instructions. Slightly adapted from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.  *A spurtle is a Scottish cooking implement used to stir oats as they simmer and soften slowly in the pot.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Korean Bibimbap and Kimchi

Korean Bibimbap is a popular Korean rice dish. It is served out as shown: rice in the middle and then surrounded by a number of side dishes.
The idea is that you then take your chopsticks and mess it all up. Korean Bibimbap usually comes with a fried egg on top, but as you can see there was so much on the plate I decided to omit it.
My real reason for wanting to make this dish was Kimchi.  As soon as I became aware of this spicy crunchy, pickled vegetable, I was excited and set out to seek some at the Chinese supermarket. 

Kimchee, Kimchi; or gimchi is a traditional Korean dish of raw fermented and highly seasoned Cabbage or White Radish.  It is often made from Chinese Cabbage, but you will find kinchi made from other vegetables such as aubergines, pumpkins, turnips, spring onions and cucumbers.  When served as a side dish in Korea, Kimchi is known as a banchan.  It is common, in Korean cuisine, to have many banchan served alongside a meal. Main courses may be accompanied by up to twelve side dishes. Of all those plated, Kimchi is said to be the most popular. To demonstrate how passionate Korean people are for their kimchi and how it central it is to Korean cuisine, there is a  museum called The Kimchi Field Museum located in Seoul that is completely dedicated to it. Follow this link if you want a tour of the museum, and are interested to learn more about kimchi. Be warned its quite long, so don't feel you have to watch it all.
Well I actually liked the Kimchi, though I have to admit it may have been much better had I made it myself.  It is something I will definitely be making from scratch especially as the Chinese Cabbage and radish versions can easily be made at home.  I was surprised to learn that D wasn't that keen on it, especially as he likes his pickles. 

Back to the other side dishes.  I liked them all, except for the spring-onion mushrooms made from dehydrated black mushrooms.  I felt like I was chewing on an elastic band. But other than the mushrooms, I did enjoy my generous plate of Korean Bibimbap. 
This recipe comes from Another Dinner is Possible written by Isy and Mike.    Isi is of Korean heritage hence the inclusion of veganized Korean recipes, for which I am most appreciative.  Isi has not given a written recipe per se with measurements, but writes 'use any of the following, varying colour and textures - depending on how much you use amounts will vary’.

- A handful of dried mushrooms, soaked, squeezed dry, sliced and fried in sesame oil with chopped spring onion and soy sauce.
- 2 carrots, peeled and then either julienned or or strips of carrots made with a potato peeler, stir fried in oil with some salt and a little water.
- 1 onion stir fried in oil with salt
- ½ cucumber, julienned, sprinkled with salt and left for 20 minutes, rinse squeeze dry and stir fry.
- A handful of kimchi, shredded

Isi also suggests bean sprouts, green beans, blanched broccoli florets, mooli aka white radish.
Arrange all the prepared vegetables separately side by side in circle on a place.

To elevate the dish further, serve it with gochujang, a spicy and slightly sweet red pepper paste made with miso. It can be used as a seasoning, a dip for the rice or as a relishes the only.  Recipe from  Another Dinner is Possible by Isy and Mike

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Spiced Cabbage Flatbreads

The shredded Sweetheart Cabbage in these flatbreads, originally started off as a topping for a rustic wintry pizza.  Then for no apparent reason it evolved into a stuffed flatbread.  These spicy stuffed flatbreads are not that dissimilar from the South Asian stuffed Paratha, except these are much more healthier as they are not laden with butter.

The sweet spicy flavours contrasted wonderfully with the slight bitter undertones of the cabbage. These are best eaten in your hands, the way you would a hand pie such as a pastry, or even a sandwich.
Spiced Cabbage Flatbreads
Serves 6 – 8
For the dough
260g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for frying
1 teaspoon salt
225ml water
For the spicy cabbage filling
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 generous teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Small green cabbage, core removed and sliced (I used Sweetheart cabbage)
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
For the dough: mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl (not you may not need all the water) and knead for 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 1 hour.
For the filling: Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and spices and fry for a few seconds, then add in the shredded cabbage and season to taste. Put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the cabbage is tender. Turn off and set aside to cool.
Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each ball.
Spread some of the cabbage mixture on half the dough, then fold over the over half to enclose the filling. Run your rolling pin over the top a few times to flatten and seal the edges. Layer the flatbreads on sheets of baking paper, so that they don’t stick together. You can put them in the fridge for cooking later if you wish. To cook the flatbreads, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan until hot. 
Add one flatbread at a time and fry until golden brown on each side. Keep the cooked flatbreads warm in  the oven while you cook the rest.
Slice and eat immediately.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Mango Pickle Lentil Pasta Bake

Not only has the fierce wind and rain been bashing parts of Scotland, we have also been warned that we may have the volcanic ash cloud to contend with from the recent Icelandic volcano eruption.

Well when everything seems a little grey and i don't mean just the weather, comfort yourself with food, in this case its a plate of 'Mango Pickled Lentil Pasta Bake'.  Really we should be indulging in early strawberries, zingy rhubarb and spring vegetables, but no we are still cooking with store cupboard ingredients and eating rib sticking food.

Please don't go 'Ugh - Lentil and Pasta - how boring'. I've made a Lentil Pasta before and the lentils lends itself wonderfully as a sleek sauce.  You can describe this Mango Lentil Pasta Bake as a Spiced up version of Macaroni Cheese.  I know the mango pickle sounds strange in a creamy cheesy dish, but take my word for it, it really works.  One of my absolute favourite recipes using Mango pickle is my Dads Achari Aloo (Mango Pickled Roast Potatoes).  The mango pickle is sharp and lifts the creamy element of the pasta which I would normally find just bland.  The cooked lentils also retained a little bite giving this pasta bake texture. I especially liked the golden topping and thoroughly enjoyed breaking into the crispy exterior with my fork.  You could just eat the Red Lentil Mango Dal as it is too,if you so wish.
I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights #215. PPN was founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon a Feast and each Friday night a different host posts a roundup of pasta dishes submitted by bloggers from around the world. This week PPN is being hosted by Trish of My Slap Happy Kitchen.
Mango Pickle Lentil Pasta Bake
Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients
For the Mango Dal - Red Lentil layer
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 clove garlic, crushed
160g red lentils
1 x 400g can of tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 – 3 tablespoons mango pickle, drain the oil. If the pickle is chunky, chop it roughly (or mango chutney)
1 bay leaf
A few drops of hot sauce such as Tabasco to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta topping
120g penne pasta
20g butter
20g plain flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Optional: 1 tablespoon dreid fenugreek
400ml milk
Salt and pepper to taste
160g Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon black, brown or yellow mustard seeds (or a mixture of all)
Method
First make the lentil layer: heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is softened and transparent.
Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato puree, mango pickle, bay leaf, hot sauce and season to taste. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the excess liquid has evaporated, leaving a thick but not dry mixture. Discard the bay leaf and transfer the tomato-lentil base to a deep ovenproof dish.
Preheat oven to gas mark 6.
Now make the past bake topping: bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook according to packet instructions or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in another saucepan and ad the flour and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring for a minute. Remove from the heat, add the optional fenugreek if using and then pour the milk in steadily and mix well. Return to the heat and stir until boiling, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes.
Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Then stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the cheddar cheese. Then evenly spoon the pasta mixture on top of the tomato-lentil layer.
Mix the reserved cheese with the breadcrumbs and the mustard seeds and sprinkle evenly over the surface.
Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the topping is golden.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Banoffee Curd Muffins

As you can see I'm not very adept at elegantly piping whipped cream on cakes.  This is something I hope to accomplish in the near future.  For now though, please just gaze at this 'Banoffee Curd Muffin' for what it is: oozing banana toffee sweetness. 
Whether you choose to serve the whipped cream on top or right in the middle, it tastes still the same - sweet!
Banoffee Curd Muffins
Makes 12
Ingredients
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
A good pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
1 egg
125g plain yoghurt
125ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
160g - 180g Banoffee Curd.  Follow here for recipe.
Optional: Whipped cream for serving.
Method

Line a muffin tray with 12 large paper cases.
Preheat oven to gas mark 4.
Put the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk lightly to aerate and combine.
Mix the egg, yoghurt, milk and melted butter together in a jug. Pour them into the dry ingredients and mix lightly until well combined. Please try not to over-mix as this will result in dense and cakey muffins.
Spoon some mixture into each muffin case and top with a generous teaspoon of Banoffee Curd. Then cover the Banoffee Curd with the remaining muffin mixture. It doesn't matter if you see some oozing out, its part of the charm and when baked will be more toffee like.
Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. These are best eaten on the day you bake them.  Serve with some whipped cream.
Serve with some whipped cream.  Recipe based around Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall's Lemon Curd Muffins.

Black Buckwheat Waffles with Mushroom Gravy

A few weeks ago, I missed participating in Johanna's Nut roast Challenge. Not everyone likes nut roasts and that includes vegetarians.  Its seen as old fashioned and a throwback to 1960s-70s vegetarian cuisine, but I actually think they do still have a place in in this day and age.  Anyway, this month Johanna is also hosting the Breakfast Club event #11 on her blog Green Gourmet Giraffe. The Breakfast Club was initiated by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.  The challenge for May is to create a savoury and vegetarian breakfast

Well as some of you may know,  I often indulge in a proper cooked vegetarian breakfast, especially at weekends. For me this can be a veggie fry up or waffles galore.  This time though, I thought I’d go one better and make it all vegan.  My chosen recipe was Buckwheat waffles with a mushroom gravy sauce.
Another excuse for making these buckwheat waffles was my rather large packet of Black Buckwheat flour. The 'Noir' or black in the buckwheat simply means it contains the hull which makes the flour look darker - Just imagine wholemeal flour, well I guess this is Wholemeal Buckwheat flour.  I picked up the flour whilst on holiday in Brittany last year, land of galettes and savoury crêpes and its still unopened. 

I don't know about you, but I have a really bad habit of not using ingredients (sometimes expensive ingredients) and keep them stored well; as if they are an antique of sorts that will gain value if left unopened.  Obviously this is not the case, as they go past expiry date and end up down the sink or in the bin.  In my store cupboard I also have Carob Syrup from Cyprus, Violet Syrup from France, Tiger Nuts when I was in Whitby, Welsh Laverbread from my nephew, Irish Carragheen, Carob flakes, Liquid Smoke, White Poppy Seeds, Barley flour, Sorghum flour, Chestnut flour, the list goes on.
Back to the recipe.  This was my first ever vegan waffle attempt, though cooked through, I had to prise the waffles out from the waffle iron. The mixture was a little thinner than the eggy versions. Also when cooked, the waffles didn't look like its eggy counterparts that are puffy and airy.  I also noted that the waffles had lots of air pockets. I wondered if this was because of the black buckwheat flour and the result may have been lighter had it been just plain buckwheat flour.  This did not affect the taste though which was nutty.  There was also a sweetness that I am guessing was coming from the soya milk. The Mushroom Sauce was especially nice, and one I can see being ladled over some new potatoes and green vegetables like Brussels sprouts.
For the Black Buckwheat waffles
Makes 6 waffles
Ingredients
240ml/1 cup of soya milk
240ml/1 cup water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
100g/¾ cup Black Buckwheat flour or plain buckwheat flour
100g/¾ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50ml/¼ cup vegetable oil
Cooking spray for waffle iron
Method
Measure out the milk and water and add the vinegar to it. Set aside to curdle.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together buckwheat, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the milk mixture and oil. Mix together until relatively smooth. Let the batter rest for minutes. Meanwhile make the Tarragon Mushroom gravy and preheat the waffle iron.
For the Tarragon Mushroom Gravy
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
240ml/1 cup vegetable stock
1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
Optional: 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
Method
Heat a large pan over medium heat and saute the shallots in oil until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon and season to taste. Cook on medium heat until the mushrooms begin to soften.
In a measuring jug, measure out the vegetable stock and stir in the flour ensuring that there are no lumps. Then pour the stock into the shallot-mushroom mixture and gently simmer for 8 – 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes gravy like – thick and creamy.
Whilst the mixture it transforming into a thick gravy, make the waffles according to your waffle mixture.
Then plate up and gently ladle each plate with the mushroom gravy.  Adapted from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Red Lentil and Chard Pot stickers

Its been raining on and off, but its not the rain that's bothering me today its the blustery gale force winds.  Across the West and Central Belt of Scotland there have been severe weather warnings of high winds that will cause disruption and destruction.  And its true, the wind has been gushing all day at 70 - 80mph.  In some parts of Scotland homes are without electricity as power cable lines have come down, trains have been cancelled and trees have fallen.  From my own window, I've watched our bird table topple over, plants pots being flung from our garden into the neighbours.  I've also watched peoples bins being knocked from their front gardens and then scuttle down the road.  I am fretting that the recent roof work will be damaged with slates being dislodged and then knocked down and the costly repaired leaking roof will continue once again.  Unfortunately, our upper cottage flat is at the bottom of the street and when they come: that is the wind and rain, they give it a mean battering.  I am trying my utmost not to think about it, but its really hard not too when its loud, harsh and knocking literally (swaying tree branches) on your windows.
These pot stickers were much more golden and crispier than my first attempt.  It has a simple filling of red lentils and chard.  The Swiss Chard is from my own garden plot and the lentils from my shrinking store cupboard.  I accompanied the pot stickers with a coriander dipping sauce.  My oh my, not only was it heavily ginger scented, the ginger dominated the usually overpowering coriander.  I have to admit, I wasn't too keen on the dip and may in future make a different lightly spiced dipping sauce.  

I am sending this 'Red Lentil and Chard Potstickers' to My Legume Love Affair. MLLA was founded by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. This month MLLA #35 is being hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

Lentil and Chard Pot stickers with Coriander Dipping Sauce
Makes about 18 - 24
Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
8 spring onions, chopped
Handful of chard or spinach, shredded
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
75g dried red lentils, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Packet of Wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon Tamari or other soy sauce
200ml water
Method for the wonton parcels
In a large pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Saute the seeds until they start to pop, then add the spring onions. Cook , stirring well, for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chard and then the ginger. Mix well. Cook until the chard has wilted. Stir in the lentils and season to taste. Cook for about five minutes, then remove from he heat and allow to cool. 
Place a teaspoon of the lentil mixture into the centre of each wonton wrapper.  Brush the edges with water. Bring up two opposite points of the wrapper over the filling and pinch them together int he centre. Then bring the other opposite points to the centre and pinch together. Pinch all the edges together to seal.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a large non stick pan over medium-high heat. Place dumplings in the pan, you will need to do this in batches as you do not want to crowd the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, until golden. Stir in half the tamari, then half of the water. Cover and reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the water has evaporated. Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Serve immediately.  *If you don't want to make pot stickers, you can steam these dumplings in a steamer for 4 - 7 minutes or until firm, but still tender.
For the coriander dipping sauce
Ingredients
1 bunch of fresh coriander
100ml lemon juice
25g shredded coconut
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to combine
Method
In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients. Blend until smooth. If the sauce seems to thick, add enough water until you have reached your desired consistency. Recipe adapted from Food From the Spirit Manuela Dunn Mascetti.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Portobello Market

One of the benefits (if that's what you want to call it) of being made recently unemployed is not having to request annual leave from your employers, and you can make immediate decisions to go away somewhere for however long you want.  Well that's what happened last week, with the roof patch work completed we made an impromptu decision to travel down South to see family, so much apologies to my readers who wondered of my absence. 

On Saturday we went to one of U.Ks most famous markets in West London - Portobello Market.  Portobello Market goes straight through the centre of Notting Hill.  Some of you may have watched the romcom movie Notting Hill which was filmed in and around here.  Although an extremely successful movie, it was heavily criticised by local residents for not reflecting the true multi 'ethnic' and cultural diversity of Notting Hill and its roots. 

Back to the market, let me tell you, this is one of the busiest markets I have ever been too.  I mean after a while, I stopped saying sorry when accidentally bumping into people and took it in my stride of it all being part of the experience. Also it was very difficult to take photographs, pretty much every one had a camera but here are a few snap shots of what caught my eye.
 Rockabilly Buskers - actually they were very good.
 Some antique and vintage tins.
Look closely (or click on the image) and you see some white asparagus.  Guess how much it was?  2 for £1.50 !!!  I wanted to pick some up either for our meal in the evening; or to bring back up with us, but D discouraged me pointing out that I didn't want to be carrying fresh asparagus, especially at we were only at the start of our tour at Portobello Green Market.  Gggrrr I wasn't completely happy with his decision and wished I had picked some up.  On the right hand side of the photograph you will also see some mushroom, they almost look like carved wood. On this stall you could also find Japanese aubergine and kerala also known as bitter gourd - the bitter crocodile of vegetables becaue of its green knobbly skin.
 I quite like this artwork on the van - Enjoy your Bananas!
At first glance I thought it was a Health shop, but when we entered it we were pleasantly surprised to note it was a Vegetarian eatery.  The grain offers a number of vegan pies, sweet and savory pastries and sweets.  Other than a piece of toast, we hadn't eaten very much for for breakfast, so picked up a Schnitzel Pastry.  It was just okay.  It sustained us until our next foodie stop which was a Ghanaian stall called Spinach and Agushi owned by the runners up on BBCs The Restaurant.  As well as learning a little about Ghanaian cooking and ingredients, I really admired Adwoa Mensah-Haganhere passion for cooking.  Anyway, we bought a small portion of the Spinach with Melon seeds served on a bed of spiced rice to share.
As you can see it was busy ....
It got busier...to seek refuge from the hustle and bustle we turned into one of the streets.  I realised we had stumbled upon the Books for Cooks and The Spice Shop.  I was a rather overwhelmed with the selection of dried chillies and spices stocked here.  The next time I come here (and there will be a next time, unless I order online), I will make sure I bring a list with me. 
Books for Cooks reminded me a lot of Clarissa Dickson Wrights Cook Book Shop (closed in 2004) in Edinburgh (but later I discovered that Clarissa of Two Fat Ladies actually once worked there). I was surprised to find Books for Cooks crammed in such a small space.  In fact it was so small that people were constantly brushing past you and at one point, I actually knocked a few books off the shelf.  You may be surprised to note that I came out empty handed - I'm watching my pounds and pennies you see.
 A final walk through Portobello Market and one more snack to share.
When we originally entered the Portobello Market, one of the vendors at Mama's Jerk Station stall overheard me pointing out to D that they had some vegetarian offerings.  The lovely man called us over and offered us a piece of Jerk Veggie Bean Cake and my mother in law Jerk chicken.  He told us that the The Jerk Veggie Bean Burgers were made from sweet potato, kidney beans, black eyed peas, coconut, plantain, and Mama's Secret Jerk Marinade.  I could taste the shredded coconut.  We told him we'd probably get some on the way back, but when we returned instead of getting a Jerk Veggie Burger I opted for the Mama Jerks Veggie and Dumpling Soup - it was substantial, warm, hot and spicy - D declared it 'the best thing we had eaten all day'.  I totally agreed.