Category Archives: Vegan

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

This is some well-traveled guacamole. It started at a cocktail party in Berlin. Or rather, in the hours before the cocktail party began. The hosts were my friends Rachel and Dave who I were visiting for Thanksgiving – me, Rachel and Dave go way back and have a happy history of expat Thanksgivings together. And on this particular Thanksgiving, they had the genius idea of having a Thanksgiving Eve cocktail party.

But back to the guac… pre-party, we went to the Turkish Market on the bank of the Maybach for provisions, and somewhere amongst the spices, pomegranate, dolmades, and traditional Turkish Heisser Apfel Ingwer Punch, an avocado score was found. A gentleman at one of the vegetable stalls sold us a whole box of avocados for a mere 2 euros. An idea was forming…

Requisite avocado...

One of my visions for the cocktail party was guacamole to pair with the Mexican Martinis I planned to make. The challenge in Berlin – and many parts of Europe – is that it’s really hard to find fresh coriander. Maybe it was the Turkish influence but in my mind I started to evolve my idea of guacamole to use other herbs. I also needed an alternative to tomato which is woefully out of season in wintertime Germany. There at the Turkish market, stalls laden with bright red pomegranate and big bundles of parsley, the solution was practically screaming at me.

When we got home, we realized that the aforementioned gentlemen was eager to dispose of his avocados because they were insanely ripe. But even after discarding the truly worst of the bunch, we were still left with an ample supply of avocados to play with. The guacamole was assembled as all guacamole should be… throw your ingredients into a bowl, mix, taste and adjust as you go. Our ingredients were avocado, red onion, lemon juice, pomegranate, parsley, salt and lots of pepper. The icing on the avocado cake, however, was the final flourish of dukkah sprinkled on top.

Dukkah

In case you’re not on the dukkah bandwagon yet, it’s basically just a mix of toasted spices, nuts and seeds that have been coarsely crushed. You can buy dukkah in the shops now, but it’s so much better when you make it yourself. There are an infinite number of ways to make dukkah, but I personally like Ottolenghi’s dukkah recipe. If you don’t feel like making the whole thing, even a pinch of freshly toasted cumin seeds, or a sprinkle of toasted chopped pistachios, will take this guacamole to otherworldly dimensions!

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

This concoction – guacagranate? pomemole? – was so successful we made it again the next day. And it made a reprise again this last winter solstice at our tamale party in France where, again, cilantro was impossible to come by. But even back in the UK, where cilantro is readily available (a reminder of how lucky we are to live amongst such food abundance), I still go back to this, especially as we’re still in the midst of winter, and tomatoes aren’t even worth buying at the moment.

Also, for the record, the Mexican Martinis were wildly successful and went down perfectly with the guacamole – and the games, which went on until nearly 5am! Total success!

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

When I’m making guacamole, I typically allow for one avocado per person, so scale this up appropriately to your group size!

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • dukkah for garnish (I like Ottolenghi’s dukkah recipe)

Method

  1. Mash the avocados in a bowl – don’t go too crazy, try to keep some chunks in there for texture.
  2. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, parsley, red onion, lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and a hefty grind of fresh black pepper.
  3. Mix together and taste – at this point I often end up adding more salt, pepper and lemon. But you could also add more of everything as you wish!
  4. Serve in a bowl garnished with the dukkah.

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

With thanks to my awesome friends Rachel and Dave for entertaining my avocado fantasies (and treating me to the most amazing weekend in Berlin!).

Kadawe champagne stop

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacekadet/15602952264/

I first became acquainted with Agen prunes when I went to Gascony in 2012. As my friend Mardi (the venerable blogger at eat live travel write) puts it: “if someone thinks they don’t like prunes, give them one of these and they’ll change their mind.” It’s totally true.

Agen prunes (pruneaux d’Agen) have been developed to have the perfect balance of sugar and acidity. They are moist, delicious and very addictive. I always bring some back with me when I go on my France road trips.

Agen prunes

Speaking of road trips, while I was cruising along the autoroute last December from Gascony to the ferry terminal in St Malo, snacking on prunes and daydreaming about car snacks (and Armagnac, also good with Agen prunes), I got to thinking that these prunes would make a great alternative to dates in a homemade raw snack bar recipe. I’m talking about snack bars of the Larabar / Nakd bar variety; basically a nut and dried fruit mush, expensive to buy, delicious to eat, and actually really easy to make at home.

Dates are the default fruit binder in homemade raw bars, but they are SO sugary that it makes me wonder if these raw bars are any better for you than a Snicker’s bar (for your reference, a “Cashew Cookie” Larabar has 230 Calories and 18g of sugars while a Snickers bar has 250 Calories and 27g of sugars – food for thought!).

Agen prunes

Not long after I got home I tested my Agen prune theory. It turns out that the prunes are even better than dates for binding the ingredients together, and they have almost half of the sugar as dates. I love their flavour, less cloyingly sweet than dates and with a character all of their own.

In this recipe I’ve combined the prunes with walnuts, a nut which I’ve always found a nice compliment to prunes, and are also purported to be “the healthiest nut” for their high level of antioxidants. I also added cinnamon (I love cinnamon) and coconut flakes (I love the texture), though you could keep it pure and simple and omit these ingredients, or get creative and add your own spices and add-ins.

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

And so, from my Gascony road trip, a new road trip snack is born! And this isn’t only for road trips – I’m going to be bringing these on hikes and bike rides, too.

Lastly, if you think you have to go all the way to Gascony to get their delicious prunes, fear not – Waitrose now stocks them, and no doubt a Google search will reveal more online stockists. (Even so, you should go to Gascony, because it’s amazing!)

Prune, Walnut, and Coconut Bars

This is a good basic template for making all manners of homemade raw bars. Sub all or some of the prunes for other dried fruit; the walnuts for cashews, almonds or a mixture; add other spices like nutmeg, ginger or cocoa; experiment and have fun! For more raw bar inspiration, check out my previous post on making homemade Larabars.

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cups walnut halves or pieces (depending on the prunes, you may need more or less nuts to get them to bind)
  • 1 cup pitted Agen prunes
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (or shredded coconut)
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded / desiccated coconut
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • a small pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse walnuts until coarsely chopped.
  2. Remove half of the walnuts. Continue processing the remaining walnuts until finely ground.
  3. Add the prunes to the nuts along with the salt and cinnamon. Process a few more seconds until everything is combined.
  4. Empty mixture into a bowl and stir in the reserved walnuts and the coconut flakes.
  5. Line a small container with cling film (I used a 4′ tupperware). Sprinkle some of the shredded coconut on the bottom of the container. Press the mixture into the dish with your hands. Top with the rest of the shredded coconut and press down gently so it sticks to the top.
  6. Refrigerate for half an hour and cut unto pieces.

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

I traveled to Gascony from Wiltshire, UK, by car and by ferry, using Brittany Ferries to cross the channel from Portsmouth to St Malo. Brittany Ferries also sails to Caen, La Havre, Roscoff, Cherbourg Santander and Bilbao, all perfect launch pads for your road trip to Gascony, for prunes, Armagnac and whatever other Gascon goodies strike your fancy.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder
This time of year we’re all craving food that will lift us from the winter doldrums, excite the tastebuds, and negate the effects of holiday indulgence. This spiced pumpkin soup ticks all of the boxes, while still remaining true to the season and totally comforting.

Of course, curried pumpkin soup is a classic, but this recipe takes it up a notch by using homemade curry powder which is such a huge step above from the shop-bought stuff. Freshly ground whole spices are intensely more fragrant and flavoursome than pre-ground spices, which quickly go stale while sitting on the shelf.

The soup itself is very simple – you need little more than pumpkin (or other winter squash), onion, oil or butter, water and of course, the curry powder, which itself isn’t spicy so if you’d like a bit more heat in your pumpkin soup, feel free to add some cayenne or a chopped red chilli. I love this soup garnished with Greek yoghurt and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but a good vegan standby is coconut milk and chopped coriander.

I do my soup-blending and spice-grinding in my Optimum 9400 blender which conveniently blends both wet and dry ingredients. But you could also use an immersion blender, spice grinder, coffee grinder, and so on to get the job done.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter, coconut oil or a neutral oil like grapeseed
  • 3 pounds of pumpkin or other winter squash (crown prince, butternut, kabocha, etc), peeled and cut into 2-3cm cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (see below)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water

Optional garnishes

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Coconut milk
  • Toasted seeds
  • Sliced spring onions
  • Chopped coriander

Method

  1. Put the butter or oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. When hot, add the pumpkin and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
  2. Add the curry powder, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, give it a stir and cook until fragrant (a minute or so). Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is totally soft (about 30 minutes).
  3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or jug blender (if using a jug blender, let the soup cool a bit as hot liquids can be explosive when blended!).
  4. Serve hot with garnishes if you’d like.

Homemade Curry Powder

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg pieces
  • Seeds from 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the fenugreek in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant. During the last few moments, add the fenugreek.
  2. Let everything cool and then grind to a fine powder (you can use a high powered blender for this, or a spice or coffee grinder). Store in a well-sealed container. This will keep nicely for a few months.

For more healthy blender recipes, check out my fellow #jumpstart15 comrades:

Chargrilled Romanesque Cauliflower Salad

Chargrilled Romanesco Cauliflower Salad

I am an ardent lover of cauliflower. And as a veggie lover who sidelines as a mathematician, a mathematical cauliflower is an extra special thing. Enter the Romanesque cauliflower (also known as Romanesco or Romanesco broccoli), a beautiful example of a Fibonacci fractal in the natural world, with buds arranged in an enchanting logarithmic spiral. It’s always a special day when one of these arrives in the Riverford box. And a special vegetable like this requires special treatment.

Riverford Box

Romanesque cauliflower has a flavour and texture pretty close to that of regular cauliflower, so I drew on my existing cauliflower know-how for inspiration. Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for Chargrilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill and Capers that I adore. In particular, I love the effect of chargrilling the cauliflower, which has the same crisp, caramel-like appeal of roasted cauliflower, but is fresher and lighter because the cauliflower gets steamed before chargrilling, and is then tossed with a light vinaigrette while still warm.

Chargrilled Romanesco Cauliflower Salad

This salad gets the same chargrilling treatment, but instead of tomatoes (far too summery for this time of year), I added raisins, red onion and dill, plus a splash of sherry vinegar and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. It’s a strange combination of ingredients but it works really well. For a complete meal, you could could add some chickpeas, cooked quinoa or even fish (good quality tinned tuna is actually fantastic with this and makes for an easy lunch).

Chargrilled Romanesco Cauliflower Salad

I use a little honey in the dressing but you could easily use maple syrup or agave for a vegan salad. This salad ticks the gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb boxes, too.

Chargrilled Romanesque Cauliflower Salad with Raisins, Almonds and Dill

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1 head of Romanesque cauliflower (or normal cauliflower)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup or agave for a vegan version)
  • 3 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 small handful of dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Whisky the honey with the sherry vinegar then toss with the onions, raisins and a pinch of salt. If you have time, leave this mixture for 30 minutes or so to give the raisins a chance to plump and the onions a chance to soften.
  2. Cut the Romanesque cauliflower into florets and steam for about 4 minutes, so that it’s tender but still has a crisp bite to it.
  3. Meanwhile, heat up a grill pan (or your outdoor barbecue) on a high heat. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil then grill, turning occasionally, so that it gets nice black crispy bits on all sides.
  4. Place the chargrilled cauliflower in a bowl and toss with the vinegar-onion-raisin mixture. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Add more olive oil if you’d like.
  5. Serve the salad sprinkled with sliced almonds and dill.

Warm Tofu With Garlic Sauce and Sesame

Warm Tofu with Garlic & Sesame Sauce

This recipe could equally be called “The Easiest Way Ever To Make Tofu Taste Delicious”. It doesn’t involve any of the usual tricks people try to make tofu palatable: there’s no pressing or marinading or pan-frying or grilling. But the result is even better than you often get with some of these techniques.

The idea is simple: simmer tofu in water for a few minutes until its nice and hot. While that cooks, whip up a simple quick savory sauce, heavy on the chilli and garlic. Remove the tofu and place in a shallow bowl, then serve the tofu with garlic sauce.

That’s it.

Warm Tofu with Garlic & Sesame Sauce

The warm tofu basically becomes a sponge for the marinade, in this case, a potent garlic sauce that’s well seasoned with garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, a good dose of chilli and finally, a smattering of sesame seeds for flavor and texture.

It all comes together in about 10 minutes. Add some steamed rice and vegetables (broccoli works really well here) and you have a complete meal in no time flat that’s tasty enough to wow your friends. In fact, this is one of my favourite meals to serve lunchtime guests (Kavey in particular) when time is better suited to conversation and catching up rather than excessive amounts of extravagant cooking.

Warm Tofu in Garlic Sesame Sauce

Inspired by Lillian Chou’s recipe on gourmet.com.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 400g package of firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, and coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. Put the tofu in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer then keep covered on a low heat while you make the sauce.
  2. Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle (or with the side of a knife) with a pinch of salt. Stir the mashed garlic together with remaining ingredients.
  3. Lift the tofu with a spatula or slotted spoon out of the water and transfer to a shallow bowl. Spoon the sauce all over the tofu and serve.

Warm Tofu with Garlic & Sesame Sauce

Abby’s Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chilli

Sweet potato and black bean chili

This week’s Riverford vegbox contained two rare treasures: sweet potatoes and jalapeños, two foods that form the basis for one of my all time favorite veggie chili recipes: sweet potato and black bean chilli.

This recipe is a total blast from the past. My friend Abby made it for her boyfriend (now husband) and I on a cold snowy winter’s evening in Milwaukee several years ago. We’d spent the day cross country skiing in the bitter cold. It was amazing, but very hard work (it was my first time skiing ever!), and coming home to a big pot of piping hot chilli (and a few bottles of VERY cold beers) was hugely rewarding.

P1000568.jpg

I haven’t changed the recipe much from the original – Abby herself said she likes to “play around with the spices”, so I did that, too, adding a bit of cinnamon and Mexican oregano (Abby likes to add Herbs de Provence).

Such is the awesomeness of veggie chili. It’s hugely adaptable and it’s hard to go wrong. But one thing you do need is good ingredients, and on this particular occasion I felt very grateful for having beautiful organic sweet potatoes to work with. Their flavor really came through against the cocoa and cinnamon, making for some serious comfort food that feels very much needed as the weather turns truly autumnal.

Sweet potato and black bean chili

I like to serve this chili with loads of garnishes: fresh cilantro, lime, raw onion, my homemade pickled jalapeños and lots of avocado. You could also add cheese or sour cream if you’d like, or a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch. And to really make it special, serve with a big wedge of cornbread and a bottle of good beer (I recommend Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale) on the side.

Beer Tasting

Abby’s Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 to 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tins diced tomatoes
  • 3 tins black beans, drained
  • 1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, green pepper, carrots, garlic, and salt. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally.
  3. Add the jalapeno, cumin, chill powder, cinnamon, cocoa and oregano, stir and cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the tomatoes, black beans, lime juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft.

Sweet potato and black bean chili

This chilli is so memorable that I’ve written about it before.

Also memorable, the moustache on the ski rental dude at Wheel and Sprocket:

P1000577.jpg

And my friend Matt on skis.

Matt on skis

Now go make some chilli!

Sweet potato and black bean chili

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

Here is a brownie that ticks all the right boxes – raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo… – and they taste delicious too. The classic raw brownie is made by blitzing dates, nuts and cocoa in a food processor and mushing the mix together into a ball or bar. Though tasty, those raw brownies are also very dense and usually very sweet because it takes a lot of dates to hold the mixture together. These raw brownies are a slightly different breed. Made with coconut flour, ground almonds and apple puree, they have a texture that’s much more like a traditional brownie.

I was inspired to make these by Emma Potts of Coconut & Berries who posted a recipe for Raw Berry Cream Brownies which totally got my attention. I used a similar method for the brownie base, but instead of a berry cream topping, I went for chocolate ganache – it was a double chocolate kind of day.

This recipe uses cacao powder, which you can readily buy at health food shops or online. I make my own cacao powder from Naturya Cacao Nibs which I blitz to a powder in my blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 which has a jug specially made for grinding dry ingredients). You could do the same to make almond flour, too.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about the raw aspect, you can use regular cocoa powder (cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao at high temperatures, which destroys some of the enzymes, and makes it no longer raw – snap!).

Another bonus to these brownies is they give me an opportunity to use my retro vintage nut grinder! Perfect for sprinkling walnuts on top of the brownies! (Of course, you could just use a knife and a cutting board instead.)

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies 

Makes 6 brownies.

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp maple syrup or agave (add more or less depending on how sweet you like your brownies)
  • 1/3 cup apple puree or mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you aren’t worried about the raw thing)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (myprotein.com is a good source for quality virgin organic coconut oil that doesn’t cost a fortune)
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Line a small baking tin or container with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the brownie ingredients together with your hands or in a food processor. You should get a very thick mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared container and smooth out the top. Refrigerate or freeze.
  4. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a medium pot. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao powder, agave, salt, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
  5. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. If you’d like, dust the top with cacao powder and/or chopped walnuts. Put back into the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, slice and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Brownies

There are lots more people out there grinding their own flours and powders to make awesome snacks. Check out Nazima’s Fig and Blackberry Crumble using her own quinoa flour, and Emma’s Flatbread made with almond and oat flour.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Mixed Vegetable and Tofu Coconut Curry

Tofu Coconut Curry

It doesn’t make the prettiest of pictures but that’s curry for you. This is one of those anything-goes curries and is a great way to use some of those trickier items in the veggie box. On this particular occasion, the vegetable that mystified me most was runner beans. I know this is staple British fare but where I’m from in the US, I’d never seen them before. So when a big bunch of runner beans arrived in the Riverford box last week, I was mystified. When in doubt: make a curry. And in this case, the runner beans turned out to be the star of the show.

Riverford Box

To make this curry, I had on hand my friend Donovan, a real Master of Taste especially when it comes to Asian flavours. We were lucky to have some fresh turmeric around (gratefully received from my friend Jo at Demuths Cookery School) which we combined with cumin, coriander, chilli, lime and coconut to create a tangy, creamy spicy sauce for the vegetables. In addition to the runner beans, we also made use of carrots, potatoes, celery, red pepper and broccoli, all from the Riverford box. The beans really made this dish, though, their fresh green flavour going perfectly with the coconut sauce.

Donovan at work on Tofu Coconut Curry

We ate this like a soup with some crusty sourdough bread – a bit of fusion, I know – but you could also have it over rice or noodles.

Tofu Coconut Curry

Mixed Vegetable and Tofu Coconut Curry

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 inch chunk of fresh turmeric, finely chopped (or 1/4 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, diced and par-boiled
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 8-10 runner beans, sliced into then 2-inch pieces
  • 250g tofu, cubed
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, cayenne, sugar, paprika, lime juice and some salt and pepper (and the turmeric powder if using).
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, carrots, celery and red pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the lime juice and spices and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk, tofu, runner beans and broccoli and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still have some bite to them.
  4. Serve garnished with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

I’m on a bit of a raw food kick lately. Of course when it comes to raw food, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients, which should ideally be organic and locally sourced to maximise their flavour potential. In this way, my recent Riverford boxes have been packed full of autumn inspiration, with carrots and beetroot being mainstays for the last couple of weeks. Most of my beets typically go straight into the juicer, but recently I’ve been look for other ways to enjoy beetroot in its pure unadulterated form.

Riverford Box

Most recently, my favourite way to enjoy raw beetroot is shredded in combination with carrots and dressed with something sweet and tangy. Here I use raisins for the sweetness and lemon and white wine vinegar for the tang. Feel free to experiment with other dried fruits like dates, apricots or prunes. Same goes for the nuts: I use pine nuts but pistachios would be fantastic here, as would some toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Many people don’t often brave the gory hand mess that comes with handling raw beetroot. But really, folks, the mess isn’t that bad and the result is fantastic. Just wear an apron and go to it!

And if the slaw isn’t enough, here’s more beetroot inspiration for you:

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Serves 2-3 (or one greedy Monica)

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • small handful parsley
  • small handful mint
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic in a bowl and leave to sit for about an hour.
  2. Peel the carrots and beetroot and grate them with a box grater or a julienne slicer (a julienne slicer looks prettier).
  3. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic with the carrots and beetroot, then toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, most of the parsley and mint, salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the slaw scattered with pine nuts and sprinkled with the extra herbs.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

How to Make Fruit Leather (Oven or Dehydrator)

Making Fruit Leather

Is it just me or is this a bumper year for strawberries? My accidental strawberry patch (it started as a potted plant then escaped to the gravel and has taken over) is producing way more than I could ever eat, freeze or smoothie-ify. Jam is an option, but I’ve been looking for something less sugary, yet equally non-perishable. Enter fruit leather!

First Strawberry Harvest

My fellow Americans know fruit leather as “fruit roll-ups”, which when purchased from the shop contains just as much sugar as that jam I’m trying to avoid. But if you start with real fruit, puree it and dry it yourself, you’ll find the fruit needs little sugar if any. The drying process super-concentrates the fruit sugars leaving you with a naturally sweet “leather” that tastes like pure fruit

Making Fruit Leather

Strawberries are perfect for this and since the elderflowers are in bloom, I thought I’d kick up my fruit leather with a little elder-injection. I also had some homemade apple puree in the freezer, the lingering remains from last year’s orchard crop, so I thawed that out, added some grated fresh ginger, and turned that into leather, too. The apple was by far my favourite – I added a LOT of ginger and I loved the spicy kick. But I must admit, the strawberry leather tastes like pure summer.

Really blown away by my strawberry crop. This has been my daily harvest the last three days with more are on the way!

These fruit leathers are perfect for the lunchbox or for taking on long hikes. In fact, “hiking” was my motivation for all this as I’m heading to the Lake District this weekend and am getting ready to hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in July. The fruit leather will be a welcome energy shot on the “rocky road” (and for a super energy shot – fruit leather rolled up with almond butter!).

Best of all, you can do this in the oven (no fancy dehydrator necessary).

How to Make Strawberry (or any other fruit) Leather

Making Fruit Leather

You can skip the elderflower in this but it does add that extra something. Try swapping it out with other flavour add-ins: orange zest, cinnamon, ginger… be creative! And feel free to sub the strawberries for any other fruit. You can do this in either an oven or a dehydrator; I’ve included instructions for both. If you live in a warm climate, you can also do this on a hot day by simply leaving the fruit to dry out in the sun!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups strawberries, stems removed and halved (or any other fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste)
  • 3-4 clusters of elderflowers (optional)

Method (Oven)

  1. In a medium saucepan, on a low heat, cook the strawberries until they are soft and the juices are released.
  2. Tie up the elderflowers in a muslin or jelly bag and add to the juicy strawberries. Cover, leave to cool, then put in the refrigerator and leave overnight. (If you skip the elderflowers, there’s no need to leave the strawberries overnight – you can make your leather right away!)
  3. The next day, preheat oven to its lowest temperature setting.
  4. Remove the elderflower bundle and pour the berries into a blender. Add the honey and puree.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the berry mixture onto parchment lined pan – it should be about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Put in the oven and bake for 4-6 hours, until leather peels away easily from the parchment. Using scissors cut into rectangles and roll them up, parchment and all.

Method (Dehydrator)

  1. Follow the oven method through step 4.
  2. Spread the mixture out onto a dehydrator sheet to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  3. Dehydrate at 130 F / 50 C for four hours. Check the fruit leather periodically – when it peels away easily, peel it off, flip it over and dry for another hour or two.
  4. Remove from dehydrator and use scissors or a pizza roller to cut it into you desired shapes.

Making Fruit Leather