Monthly Archives: October 2018

Bring on the Beans

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The shorter, cooler days of November give me the opportunity to indulge my bean and lentil obsession. Beans and lentils grow where the climate is warm and sunny yet I’m inclined to eat them more often when it’s cold. A bowl of thick, creamy lentils or beans is an inexpensive source of protein which will slowly release energy to fuel your body and comfort your soul.

 

Dal Markhani is a recipe from the north of India, which uses both lentils and beans served in a sauce of fragrant spices. Markhani is a sauce of butter, tomato and cream but in order to slot this recipe into my ‘live to be one hundred’ recipes file I have used coconut milk and vegetable ghee/oil instead of the dairy but feel free to swop it back.

 

The original recipe also uses black urad dal, a type of black mung bean, which takes an overnight soaking and then three or for hours to cook. Healthy as urad dal might be it’s not really in synch with our fast paced lives so they have been dumped in my recipe in favour of black beluga lentils, which are one of the gems of the lentil family. Black, round and robust they cook in 20-25 minutes and keep their shape whilst doing so. No mealy mass even if you forget them and decide to walk the dog whilst cooking.

 

There’s a fast version and a slow version for this dish, both have their merits but I’m going for the fast version and opening a can of beans. The lentils I cook from scratch.

 

Dal Makhani

 

1 large onion

50g vegetable ghee or oil

25g fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic

2 cardamom pods

3 cloves

2tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 can tomatoes

½ tsp salt

1 can kidney beans

200g beluga lentils

150mls coconut milk

chopped fresh coriander to serve

 

Put the lentils into a saucepan with three times the volume of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Put aside.

Peel the onion then chop finely.

Heat a medium saucepan then add the vegetable ghee or oil and the onions. Cook on a medium heat without browning until they soften.

Peel and chop the ginger and garlic then stir into the onions. Bash the cardamom pods with the back of a wooden spoon so they crack open then add to the pot together with the cloves. Cook gently for a couple of minutes then add the ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric. Stir and gently cook for a few minutes more then stir in the tomatoes and salt. Allow the sauce to come to the boil then simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans.

Add the beans, the beluga lentils and residual cooking liquid to the tomato sauce. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and most of the coconut milk then taste . It’ll probably need a little more salt. If it’s too thick thin with a little water

Serve with chopped coriander and a swirl of coconut milk to garnish.

Eat with rice or mop up with naan bread.


Aliens in the Vegetable Patch

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Autumn is my favourite time for eating from the garden, there is such an abundance to choose from. The tomatoes in particular seem to have reached peak sweetness, perhaps it’s the long slow ripening on the vine. It is the reason we keep gardening as it’s impossible to buy this flavour.

We have harvested all our apples and potatoes and the beetroots are ready for eating. The beans and courgettes keep making a last ditch effort, everytime that the sun comes out they decide to have another go, so although we’re no longer picking bucketsful there’s plenty for dinner.

We have the best crop of pumpkins – almost ready- after the glorious summer. Pumpkins don’t like to grow below 18c and the prolonged heat this year really boosted them along. We’re delighted as this precious crop will store right through the winter.

The stars of the moment are the cauliflowers, which have appeared like aliens in the brassica patch. All at once! Which means there’s quite some cauliflower eating to be done so it goes without saying that this months recipe is with cauliflower.

I’ve combined the cauliflowers with pumpkin so it could also be a Halloween recipe.

The measurement for the pumpkin and cauliflower are guidelines as obviously cauliflowers don’t grow in half kilo units. They do not have to be exactly 500g, just roughly equal amounts of each. The amount of eggs also depends on the size so use two large eggs or three smaller ones.

I used salted ricotta for these fritters. Pecorino and Parmesan would also be good substitutes and who knows, maybe cheddar would work too but I have not tried this variation.

 

Cauliflower and Pumpkin fritters

 

500g pumpkin

500g cauliflower

2-3 eggs – lightly beaten

200g salted ricotta – grated

a large handful of parsley finely chopped

salt and pepper

oil for frying

 

Put a large pot of salted water to boil.

Peel the pumpkin and remove any seeds then chop into equal sized pieces of roughly 2cm each.

Wash the cauliflower well then cut into florets.

When the water is boiling add the pumpkin, as soon as the water returns to the boil turn the heat to medium /low because if the pumpkin is belting around in the pot the pumpkin will become fluffy. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until a knife will enter without resistance. Lift the pumpkin from the water then leave to drain in a colander.

Return the pot to the heat and add the cauliflower, cook for 4-5 minutes, just enough to take the edge off the rawness.  Drain into a colander and give it a good shake to remove excess water.

Gently mash the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.

Put the cauliflower florets onto a chopping board and chop to small pieces paying particular attention to the stalks.

Put the pumpkin and cauliflower into a large bowl together with the beaten eggs and grated cheese and mix together with your hands.

Give the mix a good squish and it will hold together. Form the mix into golf ball sized pieces.

Heat a large frying pan and add enough oil to cover the bottom. Gently flatten the fritters and fry on a medium heat, flipping half way, until  golden on both sides.

 

These are best served with some kind of sauce/salsa. We ate ours with chopped tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic but when the tomatoes are gone we’ll move onto avocado salsa, yoghurt sauce or mayo.

 

 


If Apples be the Food of Love….

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If apples be the food of love we have an orgy on our hands. The apple trees in our garden are laden with fruit that has an age old reputation of desire and temptation..

Some of the apple trees are ancient, espaliered around the walls of the garden, others, that we have planted whilst living here, are more manageable, free standing dwarf varieties. There’s a huge variety of different shaped and sized apples. Crisp and juicy, gnarled and perfumed, sweet and floury and tart green cooking apples.

To be quite honest after our initial tart tatin frenzy it’s not raising so much desire as a ‘what the heck are we going to do with them all’ question. Our kitchen looks like an apple sorting station with rows of buckets waiting for attention.

Apart from the obvious just eating gazillions of apples, we are getting creative with the glut.

There’s apple cooked in cider, apple chutney, apples in the salad, with beans, apple tart tatin, crumbles, muffins, cakes…..

Here is a new recipe that we’re making for the shop

A spicy apple cake, which is easy to make, delicious and just happens to be vegan and gluten free. If you don’t want to faff around with several flours just replace the rice, oat and buckwheat flours with 120g regular white or wholemeal flour,

To make the apple puree simply peel, core and dice the apples evenly and quite small, and put into a saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Put the pan over a low heat and cover with a lid. Stir every few minutes until the apple breaks down. If it looks like it might stick add a little more water. It’s ready when you can fluff the apple into a smoothish puree. I beat mine with a wooden spoon.

Spicy Apple Cake

35g oat flour

50g rice flour

35g buckwheat flour

25g cornflour

1 level tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

1 level tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

75mls olive oil

120g sugar

350g apple puree

1 tsp vanilla

2-3 eating apples for the top

maple syrup to drizzle

 

oven 180c

Line a 20cm x 20cm  cake tin/brownie tray with parchment paper.

Whisk the sugar and olive together until smooth

Stir in the apple puree

Mix all the dry ingredients together then fold into the wet ingredients

Pour into a lined cake tin/brownie tray

Wash and quarter the eating apples then cut into quarters and remove the core. Slice into thin wedges

Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake in 3 lines

Bake for 25 mins, until a knife comes out clean then drizzle maple syrup over the apples. If you have a pastry brush gently brush the syrup over the apples – if you don’t, it’ll look after itself. Put the cake back into the oven for 5 more minutes.

Allow to cool before eating.

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