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Quorn Chicken Kiev

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

I wish I’d been better at keeping this blog up. Sorry about that – but here’s the first recipe of the New Year.

When I was growing up a meat eater, one of the first things I learned to ‘cook’ (aged about 9 or so, I guess) was Chicken Kiev. Ok, it involved unwrapping it and placing it on a baking tray, so it can’t really be called cooking … but it was food I prepared for myself, by myself. I believe I had it with oven chips and peas. But as I grew old, wizened and wise, I started to realise that Chicken Kievs from a packet are vile things made from battery chickens … and even if you don’t care about that,  they also taste like processed, watery meat and cheap butter. But the idea, I think, is pretty sound (apart from the meat!). After all, how far wrong can you go, stuffing something with garlic butter? So I decided to try doing a vegetarian version, with Quorn. To make the breadcrumb crust, I’d hoped to get some ready-made gluten free breadcrumbs from the local supermarket, but unfortunately, my dearest and I went to the wilds of East Yorkshire for Christmas and the supermarkets nearby weren’t particularly up on gluten free stuff. I did get some bread though. “Yes You Can” wholemeal, to be precise – and it worked fine. We had no blender in the rented cottage, so it was knife work all the way … which coeliacs will know can be tricky with gluten free bread. The bread can become pulpy and stuck together in little doughballs … but this stuff worked fine. I’d recommend it. It’s got a nice nutty flavour. But the verdict from Yesh is that Genius Mulitseeded is still the best.

So here we go. My recipe for Quorn Kievs.

Not mine. Who has a camera when noshing? Copyright BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

6 x Quorn fillets, defrosted

25-30g butter (we used goat butter)

1 x clove garlic, crushed

2 x slices gluten free bread, crumbed

1 x egg, beaten

Fresh rosemary, chopped small

Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C
  2. Slice the defrosted fillets carefully from the side, making a pocket
  3. Mix the garlic with the butter and divide into 6 small knobs. Put each knob into each fillet pocket
  4. Mix the chopped rosemary, salt and pepper with the breadcrumbs and mix well
  5. Dip each Quorn fillet into the beaten egg until coated, then dip into the breadcrumb mix until well covered. I found this difficult – the breadcrumbs didn’t stick particularly well – but as long as there’s a good enough coat, it’s fine.
  6. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 mins, or until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy
  7. Devour

I served these with parsnips, potatoes, shallots, peppers and tomatoes – all roasted – and boiled kale.

Ok – but I have to be honest. I thought they were great – but Yesh thought some of them a little dry. To combat that – add more buttery goodness, cook the smaller ones for less time … and I might suggest adding a sauce of some kind – perhaps sweet pepper, or mushroom. However, I didn’t think they were dry at all – especially as the roasted veg provided a flavoursome juice all their own. So the choice is yours.

Beggar’s Black Bean Stew (Vegan)

September 2, 2012

Poor Yesh had to work on Saturday, and being a tired wee thing, I thought she deserved a clean house and a good hot meal waiting for her on her return. Alas, when I looked in the fridge it resembled nothing so much as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard … but I channelled my mother (who can make a meal out of half a lemon and 100g of dust) and peered into the depths of the tin cupboard. We have lots of tins. Trusting to Fortune, I reached to the far depths and plucked one from random, and saw that it was Good. It was black beans. I’m a big fan, so I stripped the poverty-stricken fridge bare of its half an aubergine and some beetroot – and we ate well. Oh yes. We ate well. So here’s the recipe for a black bean stew I call Beggar’s because it used all the leftovers in the house. Luckily, lovely Yesh braved the supermarket on her way home so we’re well stocked again.

Not mine! Copyright Three Cookies Blog.

Ingredients:

400g tinned black beans

140g rice

4 cloves garlic (I used 3, and it wasn’t enough)

1/2 aubergine

2 small beetroot, raw

1/2 white onion

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 veg stock cube dissolved in 1ooml(ish) water

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Ras el Hanout

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander

salt & black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Thickly slice the aubergine and halve the beetroot. Dab oil and salt on the surface of the veg. Roast at 180˚C until soft
  2. Add the oil to a saucepan and heat on a moderately high heat
  3. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and peel and chop the onion.
  4. Add garlic, onion and spices to the oil. Heat until the onion is soft and well coated in seasoning.
  5. Add beans, in their liquid and stir, simmering
  6. Chop the beetroot and aubergine, then add to the bean mix
  7. Pour in the stock
  8. Stir in the tomato paste, and simmer on a low heat as you cook the rice
  9. Adjust seasoning to taste
  10. Serve over rice, and munch.

This was a good, warm and hearty meal, but when I made it I thought it could have done with a little more flavour. A tablespoon of soy sauce was a good accompaniment, but you could also try a couple of inches of coffee, some paprika, or whatever takes your fancy. It certainly went down well. It serves 2 easily, so double all portions for 4-6 servings. The vegetables could be easily substituted for your own choice, as well, but the beetroot did give it a lovely sweet, earthy flavour, as well as a rich dark colour, which was easy on the eye. All in all, I’d definitely make it again, but next time really experiment with strong flavours because I think the black beans can really take it. I’d be very pro the idea of star anise and coffee, for example – but Yesh can’t stand aniseed, so it’s out in this household. But take it, run with it … be free, my friends. Be free.

Roasted Vegetables and Mash

June 26, 2012

I’ve recently joined a ‘green box’ scheme, run by a local community food producer. It’s great. I get a box every 2 weeks, and try to use up all the stuff that goes off (or ‘goes home’, as Yesh would say) first. But last night, Yesh was brewing a cold and we were both feeling a bit sore and under the weather … so it was definitely a night for comfort food. And what better comfort food than roasted veg, with some cheesy mash to accompany.

Y’know, giving out ingredients and the like seems quite patronizing in this case. After all – who can’t roast some veg? But in this case, I’m going to risk it because I want to show what kinda stuff our local producer is bringing out for us (these will be marked with a GB, for green box). If there’s a green box scheme near you, I strongly urge you to jump on board with it. As well as all the veg being so much fresher than the local supermarket, it’s also like getting a little surprise package every 2 weeks. I always unpack mine with coos of delight. Yesh tends to nod and smile tolerantly, but I think that may just be her default position, with me. This is also a great way of using up leftover fresh veg you may have used half of in a previous meal. I’ll mark the leftovers with an ‘L’

So here we go. Roasted Veg and Mash.

Ingredients

  1. 3 small carrots (GB), peeled & halved/quartered
  2. 3 small, uncooked beetroot (GB), halved
  3. 1/2 red pepper (L), sliced
  4. 1/2 red onion (GB), chopped into hearty chunks
  5. 1/2 courgette (L), sliced lengthways and chopped
  6. 3 tomatoes, halved/quartered (L)
  7. 2 cloves garlic, chopped into chunks
  8. 3 sprigs fresh thyme (GB)
  9. Salt & pepper
  10. Olive oil
  11. 3 large potatoes (GB)
  12. Handful grated cheese

NOT mine. But a fair illustration.

 

Method

  1. Splash a good glug of olive oil on a roasting tin with the scattered thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat in the oven.
  2. Once hot, add the veg to the oil. Season to taste, and pour more oil over the top.
  3. Roast in oven at 180˙C.
  4. While veg is roasting, boil up yer spuds. When tender, mash ’em and mix with butter, salt, milk (soya is fine – tastes good, in fact).
  5. Half way through the roasting, give the veg a good shake-up to cook and flavour evenly.
  6. On serving, I highly recommend pouring the juices from the tin over the veg at the end. Yes, it’s a bit of an oil-fest, but the flavours in it are amaaaaazing.

Ok. So that’s that. A very simple dish that probably needed no instructions, but it’s one of our staples – and a really great way to use up those extra bits of veg kicking about the fridge. Oh – I usually like using aubergine as well – and butternut squash can be fantastic, too. Anything you like, really! Just get that garlicy, thymy flavour going and rock on!

Enjoy.

 

Yesh’s Bean Stew & Isra’s Buddhist Pie

February 9, 2012

Bean stew is such a ubiquitous veggie option, I think it gets rather overlooked – and that’s a very sad thing, because a good bean stew is warming, nutritious, and intensely flavoursome. But we all know how to make it, right? Take tins of beans (butter beans, pinto beans, kidney beans – a good mix of your favourite) and mingle with tinned tomatoes, chilli, fried onions … maybe a bit of stock if it needs more moisture. Add your choice of spices, some salt and pepper, a little coffee, some star anise … whatever tickles you.

And then you stick it on the stove and heat it up. Boom. A meal to fall on like a ravenous wolf – especially when the night is cold and Shaun the Sheep is playing on the DVD player.

Never watched Shaun the Sheep? People, you gotta.

You just gotta.

OK, so I’m making the bean stew sound simple, and it is – but there’s an art to a truly delicious bean stew, and my theory is that nothing is going to teach you that art but trial and error. I’ve followed a hundred recipes, and some have been good, others bad, others … well. The dog enjoyed it. But Yesh is unchallenged Queen of the Bean, and I bow to her. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch her cooking, so I don’t actually know what she did to make it so divine – but it was rich in tomato and garlic, wonderfully piquant (I think Cayenne Pepper played a large part in this), and so satisfying it gave you that inside-outside warm feeling of pure delight.

Copyright Tastespotting

But, the thing is, when you open all those cans of beans, you’re faced with a bit of a dilemma. Do you use some of all of them and decant the remainder into several different storage tubs? Do you mix all the remaining beans together into one large tub? Or do you do the sensible thing and chuck them all into the stew, making the most humungous amount that no __(insert correct number of people in household)__  people could eat in one sitting?

If, like Yesh, you go for the Humungous Stew option, you’re then faced with The Dreaded Leftovers!! Do you want to eat the same meal twice in a row? Or even twice in one week? Or, if you’re a bit more cavalier in your attitude to bacteria, twice in two weeks?

Oh, I know, it’s not exactly much of a dilemma, is it? You can freeze it, after all. Stick it in the ol’ freezer, forget about it, and unearth it at the time of the Environmental Apocalypse. It’ll be a lovely surprise.

Or you can make it into something new! Hurrah. That. of course, is what I did.

When I were an eater o’ meat, like, I used to love a good Shepherd’s Pie. It’s one of those deceptively simple meals, with which you can actually spend blissful, creative hours experimenting. Cook the mince with red wine and cinnamon? A touch of mace, perchance? Or go for a darker, earthier taste with Worcester Sauce, mushrooms, and some finely chopped anchovies? Ah, the hours of deliberation …

BUT! All is not lost in my little veggie gluten free world. Oh no. For there are always lentils!

And so the Buddhist Pie was born.

Ingredients

  1. 250g dry green lentils
  2. 500ml water/gluten free veg. stock
  3. 2 tsp cumin
  4. Bowl of rich, spicy, leftover bean stew
  5. 1 small onion (unless there are lots of onions already in your bean stew)
  6. Handful of mushrooms
  7. 1 small carrot
  8. 3 large potatoes
  9. 1 tsp mustard
  10. Glug of milk (soya or other)
  11. 15g butter
  12. Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Method:

Yes. This one’s mine. And no – not shown in its best light!

  1. Put the lentils in a pot and cover with water/stock
  2. Add 1tsp cumin to the water, and boil until soft (30 mins?)
  3. Dice and fry carrot, onions & mushrooms in the other tsp cumin
  4. When the lentils are soft (to your taste), combine with leftover bean stew and everything else
  5. Bring to a simmer, adjusting spices & seasoning as you see fit
  6. Scrub & chop spuds, and boil – skins on, if the spuds are nice enough
  7. Put the beany, lentilly mix into an oven dish
  8. Mash the spuds with butter, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard
  9. Spoon the mash onto the lentilly, beany mix
  10. Grate a fine dusting of parmesan on top
  11. Bake in the oven until hot through
  12. Stuff into your face

We served it with some steamed spinach. And yes, we now have an enoooooormous amount of leftover Buddhist Pie. But, frankly, I have no issue with eating it twice in one week. Or twice in one day. Or saving it for the Environmental Apocalypse. Whatever you think is best.

Hope you enjoy!

Potato Hashcakes

February 6, 2012

So here’s an everyday recipe for a hearty bout of comfort food; it’s also a fantastic way of using up leftovers, which is what I’ll bang on about while wearing my Love Food Hate Waste hat. Have you ever really paid attention to the amount of food you waste? From potato peelings to that last mouthful you can’t manage … it all piles up. And it all goes to landfill and rots. So, if you end up with a bunch of leftover potatoes (maybe ones that are softening a bit and growing a few eyes in the cupboard), and some veg – this is a fantastic, cosy, warming meal full of flavour and comfort.

Ingredients:

  1. 500g (?) potatoes, preferably skin-on. I dunno quantity, actually. I had one baking potato and about 6 new potatoes in the cupboard, so I used them.
  2. 1 tsp mustard
  3. Pinch of turmeric
  4. Pinch of cumin
  5. Salt & pepper
  6. 1 leek, chopped fine (can use cabbage, sprouts, anything of that ilk)
  7. 6-8 black olives
  8. 1tsp them there capers again!

Method:

  1. Boil the potatoes with the turmeric. It gives them a lovely colour and a slightly smokey flavour.
  1. Fry the leeks and other chosen veg with the cumin until soft, then add chopped black olives and capers
  2. Mash the spuds with the mustard, and stir in the mixed veg
  3. Mould the spuds into patties. You might want to wait until they’re cool, yeah?
  4. In a hot, oiled frying-pan, fry the potatoes until they’re nicely browned and crispy on the top
  5. Serve and chomp.

 

We ate ours with roasted butternut squash, roasted tomatoes, and salad. They were really rather pleasant.

 

Parmesan Scones of Joy

February 4, 2012

So. Baking has never been my bag, really. I don’t like my fingers getting all glooped up with sticky flour. I was never one of those kids who loved making mud pies, or digging around in the dirt with my fingers. It’s just a hands thing – I love getting muddy and grubby in general, but there’s just something about sticky hands that does my nut in. So baking is a rare occurrence for me.

This, though, is worth every minute of stickiness – finding a light, almost fluffy recipe for cheese scones for which any scone-starved coeliac would choke their grandmother.

First off, the flour mix you need is white rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato flour, in the ratio of 7 -3 – 1. (So, to make 1kg, it’s 700g rice flour, 300g tapioca flour, and 100g potato flour).Of course, you can also use gluten free self-raising flour, and if you do that, you don’t need to add Xantham gum.

Secondly, I imagine we’re all in the same boat when it comes to the leftover oil in the bottom of sun dried tomato jars, pimento jars, fancy olive jars etc etc. Don’t throw it away, for the love of God! It’s fantastic to cook with, infusing dishes with the flavour of whatever the oil has held. For these scones, I used the oil in the bottom of a jar of stuffed pimentos, which gave them just a tiny edge of spiciness. Mmmmm.

Now, on to the magic:

Ingredients:

  1. 300g flour mix
  2. Pinch salt
  3. 2 medium eggs, beaten
  4. 2 tsps gluten free baking powder (mine was out of date in 2007, but did no harm)
  5. 2 tsps Xantham gum
  6. 75g butter, or margarine, cut into small cubes
  7. 125ml milk, roughly (I use soya milk)
  8. 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  9. Sun dried tomato oil/pimento oil/olive oil to grease baking tray

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200˚C
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt, baking powder, Xantham gum and butter. Rub the mix between your fingers until you get a consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Take pauses if it feels like your thumbs are going to fall off.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour-mound. Pour in the eggs, cheese, and most of the milk. You might not need all of it – you might need more, so be cautious to start.
  4. Pull the flour gradually into the mix, stirring until you get a lovely doughy mess. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk (d’oh).
  5. Once you have the dough to your required consistency, grease your hands with your chosen oil and begin shaping small handfuls into ovals. If you’re a total glutton for punishment, you can try dusting a work surface with cornflour and rolling it. I wouldn’t bother, if I were you. It’s sticky, frustrating, and I struggle to see the point. If you wanna make the scones all pretty, then you can press the moulded balls of flour into your chosen cutter and shape it that way. Me? I’m a bit more rustic.
  6. Oil the baking tray with a little more of your chosen oil, and place the dough-scones on it.
  7. Bake in the oven for roughly 10 minutes, or – y’know – for as long as it takes.
  8. Eat them. Eat them all.

So there you have it. Scones of joy. These really were the best gluten free scones I’ve ever made. We had them with some simple butternut squash soup, salad, and homemade red cabbage coleslaw. (Recipe for red cabbage coleslaw: chop some red cabbage. Put it in a bowl with some sultanas and anything else you fancy, like grated carrot. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, a dash of lemon juice, pepper, and some grated nutmeg. Mix through. Bob’s yer aunt.)

YUM.

Spicy Banana Soup!

January 8, 2012

Ok, so maybe this sounds a bit weird to you? Or maybe you’re aware of the long and great tradition of bananas in curry, and how the sweetness of the fruit so enhances and tempers the wonderful – but sometimes harsh – curry spice flavours. Well, in this case, bananas form the central part of this creamy soup – and it’s blimmin’ delicious, I tells thee. Check-it-aaaaaaht, brothers and sisters, and be converted.

Ingredients:

 1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 large bananas, sliced

2 chopped spring onions

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

2 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

400ml coconut milk

500ml vegetable stock

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced

1 tbsp curry powder (I used Madras)

1 tsp lime pickle

1/2 tsp sugar

Grated zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon

salt&pepper to taste

Fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Thinly slice the garlic, and fry with the spring onions in oil until browned.
  2. Add curry powder, chopped celery, sprouts and bananas to the pot and stir gently until everything is well coated.
  3. Add veg stock, and salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Add red chilli, and stir to ensure all the flavours are combined.
  5. Simmer the soup until the veg have softened.
  6. Add coconut milk, the zest of the lemon and lime, and the lime pickle.
  7. Add sugar, if needed.
  8. Serve either as it is, or blend to your preferred texture, and with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

I would add a note of caution: because chillis vary so much in strength, it’s a good idea to taste the soup before adding lime pickle. The pickle adds depth of flavour, but also adds to the heat – so if you’re not up for a bit of a bite, leave the lime pickle out, or add very sparingly.

This recipe, in a simpler form, comes courtesy of a little £1 booklet I picked up in Glasgow, called Vegetarian Soup Kitchen Recipes, and was printed by Kagyu Samye Dzong Glasgow. It’s packed full of great soups, but I think this recipe in particular is truly delicious – a view shared by my partner who always has second helpings, mostly drinks the soup straight from the bowl for the sheer glee of it, and whose face lights up whenever I suggest making it.

You can also add other veg, of course. I think next time I’m going to add a red pepper. Potato, too, might go very well – as would little Thai aubergines (but fat chance trying to get them out in the wilds of Argyll!) or little bitter pea aubergines.

Experiment! Amend! Enjoy!