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Oh my- It has been a while hasn’t it. Hopefully this recipe sparks the dawning of a new (regular blog-posting) era.  This recipe would work with chicken too, or  tofu (and if you replaced the honey with dark brown sugar it’d be vegan). In terms of the veggies- I threw in what we had in the fridge, so it is very much up for interpretation, peppers, peas and courgettes would all taste great! If you can’t find/don’t have mirin, replace 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp soy sauce and  1 tbsp honey with 5 tbsp ready made  teriyaki.

teriyaki salmon on brown rice

teriyaki salmon, with flavourful brown rice and veggies (serves 4)

  • 4 salmon fillets (skin on)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small broccoli, broken into florets, with the heart saved and diced
  • handful of green beans
  • 2 carrots
  • 3/4 cup frozen sweetcorn
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 300g brown rice
  • 650 ml chicken/vegetable stock

Mix  3 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp soy sauce , 1 1/2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1 clove finely chopped garlic in a bowl (you might need to warm it slightly in a microwave to combine the honey). Pour into a flat dish that all the salmon fillets will fit into, place the salmon fillets in skin-side up and make sure they are well coated in the mix. Cover and place in the fridge for a minimum 20 minutes- you can do this overnight if you wish.

Combine the rest of the mirin, soy sauce and honey in a small bowl- teriyaki mix. Prepare the vegetables including the onion, ginger, chilli and the rest of the garlic.

Rinse the rice and place in a heavy based pan. Add the two carrots, peeled and chopped,the broccoli heart, diced and the stock.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on low. It should take about 30 minutes but this might depend on the type of rice you are using. Preheat the grill to a medium temperature.

In a wok, heat the remainder of the sesame oil and fry the onion, ginger, chilli and garlic until the onion starts to brown, add the teriyaki mix of soy mirin and honey. If you have a firm vegetable (like the broccoli) add this to the wok with a few tbsp of stock from the rice then turn down the heat, cover and allow to steam for a few minutes. Whilst this is happening, put the salmon fillets under a medium grill skin side up. Cook until just done- this will completely depend on the thickness of the fillets so keep checking! Once cooked remove the skin, if they cook before you’ve finished the rice, cover with foil and keep in  a low oven.

Add any softer vegetables to the wok, in my case green beans followed by sweetcorn, and cover until cooked. Once the rice is finished drain any stock if it is still above the rice, if not combine with vegetables in the wok. Stir in the lime juice and coriander and you’re done!salmon on rice

On a looking to the future note- lent is coming up and after my vegan experiment last year I’m looking for a new challenge- any suggestions?

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You can ask my family, but recently I’ve been getting a bit obsessed with savoury breakfasts. I’m a savoury over sweet person and I don’t understand why the standard weekday British breakfast is all about the sugar.  I miss the dosa sambar and spicy coconut chutney from south India, or the rye bread, smoked cheese and cucumber of Germany, or the falafel, olives, and fuul (fava beans) of Egypt, I want something savoury and sustaining, but I can’t quite bear to eat those leftovers in the fridge (no, it’s not because they are spicy/garlicky/I ate them about 12 hours ago…its because I was saving them for lunch!).

So I decided to do something about it- and start a weekday tradition of my own! The key is something ready-made and easy to grab. I know the reason I turn to toast and cereal is the fact it is SO easy to assemble with my eyes half shut.

To savoury muffins then, and what better vegetable than one of my all time favourites butternut squash? I decided to base my meanderings around this recipe for butternut squash and kale muffins but make a few changes with flavour combos in mind. It wasn’t until after I made it that I realised how healthy these muffins are, no sugar, no fat and vegetables, I cannot think of a better way to start the day! If  I’m starting to sound like some weird health nut let me make it up- they taste great cut in half with lashings of butter. If you’re not convinced about savoury foods for breakfast these still make a great (healthy) snack during the day.

butternut squash and feta muffins

  • 100g (1/2 a block) feta cheese
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash (about 1/2 a medium sized squash)
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour (optional- replace with wholemeal flour if you don’t have it to hand)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig sage, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten- I used egg replacer in the form of flaxmeal/linseed even though this isn’t a vegan recipe because I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while- it works really well, I made it using these instructions.
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel, deseed (save the seeds if you fancy roasting them as a snack) and cut the squash into small (3cm) cubes. Place on a baking tray, spray or drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for around 15 minutes until cooked but still firm, then leave to cool whilst you get on with the muffin mix. Cut the feta into similar size cubes and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl including the chopped herbs and walnuts. Add the egg (or egg replacer) and milk and combine to make a batter with dropping consistency (add more milk if necessary).

Once combined well, fold in the feta and squash. Grease the muffin baking tray you will be using and spoon 1 large tablespoon of mixture into each smaller muffin tin or 1 1/2 tablespoon into large muffins tin baking trays.  This should make about 18-20 mini- muffins. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes if you’re making cup-cake size muffins, or 20-25 for larger muffins. Make sure muffins are golden brown and cooked through by using a cocktail stick and seeing if it comes out clean. Store in an airtight container.

Happy alternative breakfasting!

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So I have to admit, I made a variation on this several times during lent as it is super easy and quick if, say, your family is having fish and chips and you have to concoct something for yourself at speed. It may not be the most inspired vegan meal, but man is it good, especially if you use a good quality paprika that makes it extra smoky and fiery (definitely something I was craving on the occasion I was cooking chorizo quiche for the fam).

veggie/vegan chilli

Serves 4 – for a tart filling which serves 2, see below

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • 500g tin beans in water (any variety or mixed)
  • 500g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250 ml  apple juice
  • 160 ml (about a third of the tomato tin) red wine
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon/1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tbsp cous cous (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • pepper and salt to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry off the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the beans WITH THEIR WATER, tinned tomatoes, wine mushrooms and apple juice. Bring to the boil and add the spices, stock cube and purée. Allow to simmer with the lid off for 15 minutes. Depending on how thick the sauce is looking, or what you are serving it with (I was serving it with soft tortillas so I didn’t want it to be too runny, but if you were serving it with rice or a baked potato, you’d want a bit more sauce) add the cous cous to thicken. Simmer for a further 15 minutes, lid on. Right at the end, stir in the sugar and vinegar. Taste and then season. Serve with nachos, tortillas, baked potato or rice and a crispy green salad.

 variation for tart filling

serves 2

I halved the ingredients  and omitted the tinned tomatoes, couscous, sugar and mushrooms adding an extra squirt of tomato purée and a squirt of tomato ketchup cooking quickly (probably only 10-15mins simmering) until it makes a drier sauce. I then put the mixture into pre-blind baked pastry cases (Jus-roll short crust pastry cooked at 200C for 15 minutes) and baked for 10-15 mins with a dollop of vegan “cheese” (more of a cheesey dip, the consistency of hummus)  on top from this recipe. I particularly like this fake cheese recipe because it doesn’t use soya milk and I find I don’t like the strong soy-taste in fake cheeses using soya milk.

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Happy Easter one and all!

 

Apologies for the 40days and nights (plus a few Sundays) absence. I also would have posted this yesterday, but I spent most of it either at church or in a roast beef induced stupor.

I tried a bit of an experiment over lent, which unfortunately coincided with being quite busy. From Ash Wednesday until yesterday, I have been eschewing animal products in an attempt to live more simply, healthily and with less of an environmental impact (although research has led me to believe an entirely vegan diet may not be the best way to do this…any links or input on this would be much appreciated).  Part of my Christian belief is that we have a responsibility to not over tax the planet’s resources, mainly because the poorest and most vulnerable people often suffer the most from environmental changes. I went vegan to challenge myself  and to work out how to eat fewer animal products in the future. Being vegan for lent is not such an uncommon thing in the wider Christian world, outside of our western bubble (where most people give up chocolate) many eastern orthodox traditions practice a Lenten fast without any animal products and it is sometimes called the “Daniel Fast“.

I will share some of my vegan culinary creations in the next few posts, but for starters I’d like to share these links to websites and blogs I have discovered over lent which boast excellent food (oh, and they happen to be vegan or vegetarian too).

Post Punk Kitchen

Choose Veg

One Green Planet

The Vegan Society

Green Kitchen Stories

Pea Soup Eats

Other exciting finds are that  jus-roll pastry, cheap bourbons  (thanks Ash), fig rolls and Mr. Kipling jam tarts are all vegan!

So what did I make of being vegan for lent? I think the main hurdle to overcome, as with any fasting, is psychological. Contrary to popular belief, there is a heck of a lot that one can eat as a vegan. Take the recipes on here for example: spicy aubergines, lentil tagine, mango salsa and the chick pea and spinach curry are all vegan without any alterations, and it doesn’t take much to make the fatayer, bubble and squeak or chinese broth to be vegan, with a few substitutions and omissions.

I really enjoyed trying new recipes, new food combinations and thinking more carefully about my nutrition, which I should probably be doing whatever I’m eating (on that note, I’d like to dispel a few myths of veganism which still prevail in these enlightened times, you CAN get enough protein on a vegan diet and I even gave blood halfway through lent, where they tested my iron levels and found them to be perfectly normal) . Yes, it was hard at times, and as much as I loved all the fresh and exciting food, sometimes the Brit in me just wanted something brown, smothered in gravy (and mature farmhouse cheddar cheese). For sake of the planet and my health, I’m definitely going to try and continue some of the habits I acquired during lent (like snacking on nuts and seeds, not resorting to putting cheese on everything vegetarian, and eating more pulses) into my omnivorous diet.

P.S. Ready made vegan cheese is not worth it. It is absolutely rank.

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For the veggies who read this- my apologies for the meat-feast nature of the last few posts. For those who have a problem with eating bunnies because they are cute- I make no apology.

Rabbit is a great meat, slightly gamier than chicken (although this also depends on whether the rabbit is a buck or a doe and how old it is) it has a sweetness and is cheap too, it is amazing slow cooked. I wanted to make something reminiscent of the rabbit braised in white wine that I ate at the Crooked Billet and I was quite pleased with the result. Don’t be tempted to try and joint the rabbit or de-bone it as it can be much easier done once cooked.

rabbit in white wine and lentil stew with garlic dumplings

serves 4 generously

  • 1 medium sized rabbit
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils and 1/2 cup green lentils or 1  cup broth mix
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

for the dumplings:

  • 60g shredded suet
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • 6tbsps cold water

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based pan and soften the onion and garlic on a low heat. Add the whole rabbit and brown on each side. Rinse the lentils in a sieve and chop and wash the leeks.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to the boil. Put a lid on and simmer on a low heat for 1.5 hours, stirring every now and then to stop anything sticking to the bottom. In the meantime make the dumplings. Crush the garlic and salt together with the back of a knife. Mix the flour, suet and crushed garlic and add to it enough cold water to make a soft dough. Make into 8 balls with floured hands and after the 1.5hours of simmering, add the dumplings on top. Put the lid back on and leave for 30minutes. At this point you can fish out the whole  rabbit (serve the dumplings into bowls first) and de-bone it once it’s cooled a little, it should just fall off, and you can add the bone-free meat back into the stew. Serve the stew in a bowl with steamed greens.

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couldn't find my camera so these are rubbish phone photos

Last weekend’s roast was lamb, and on Monday we had quite a bit of leftover cooked meat. Seeing as the weather has been on the colder side, no-one was keen on the salad and cold meat way of using it up. I wanted something a bit different to your average shepherds pie and decided pasties filled with a middle-eastern blend of ingredients would be just right. I think this filling would taste great in fatayer parcels too. If you wanted to use raw mince, then I would suggest pre-cooking it in a little olive oil with the garlic and onions before making the mixture.

The mushrooms in the recipe were to bulk out the meat, so if you have more meat, reduce the mushrooms and vice versa.

leftover lamb and mint pasties

makes roughly 12 medium size pasties

  • 300g cooked lamb, de-boned
  • 200g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tbsps pine nuts
  • 1 1/2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 500g savoury shortcrust pastry (either the pre-made ready to roll stuff or using this recipe)
  • egg and some milk for brushing

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

Put the lamb into a food processor and gently pulse until it reaches a consistency like cooked mince (be careful not to whizz for too long…I’ve definitely made meat-dust before by accident. Not appetising…) Alternatively chop finely. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl (apart from the pastry!) and leave to stand while you make the pastry…or just get it out of the fridge.

Roll the pastry until it is about 1/2 a centimetre thick and cut into circles roughly 15cm in diameter (I used a medium sized plate to cut round). Fill the circles with a couple of spoons of the mixture. Brush the edges with a mixture of beaten egg and milk and press the edges together. Put slits on the top with a knife. Transfer onto a baking tray with a thin brushing of olive oil on. Brush the tops of the pasties with milk and egg and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20minutes until golden brown. Serve with steamed vegetables.

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a confession

So I was all set to put up a recipe of a cauliflower risotto recipe, I made mental notes about my method, I even took pictures, but whilst eating it I suddenly realised…

I just don’t GET risotto.

There, I’ve said it. I just feel like I’ve missed something, all these chefs (Jamie Oliver and Simon Hopkinson to name two) and just general people go on about how great it is and I just don’t agree. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some ok risottos made by house-mates and restaurants, but that’s just it, they were only ever ok, never the “wow” food everyone makes them out to be, never pot-lickingly good.

I’ve persisted and still I find risotto just too much of the same flavour, too rich and…not bland exactly, but somewhere close to that. The best risotto I’ve ever had was in the Zizzi’s chain of restaurants (Risotto Verde) because the fresh pea, mint and lemon in it lifted the flavour just enough to make it go from meh to mmm. But it was still only borderline ok/good, still not “wow!”

Maybe it just bothers me so much because I’m the least fussy eater I know and  it feels dangerously like a step in the direction of becoming a (dun dun daaaaaah) fussy eater!! It’s not even as if it’s an obscure and exotic food either (don’t talk to me about bitter gourd, blergh!) its a relatively common dish. The other thing I don’t understand is I like all the ingredients on their own, rice- amazing, cheese- fabulous, onion and garlic- extra helpings please, olive oil and butter- what’s not to like? So why does risotto leave me felling so non-plussed??

Maybe I should just admit defeat, admit I’m not all that bothered by it, and that you won’t find any recipes for it on this blog. Or maybe I’ll keep eating, cooking and ordering it to see if there is that special recipe or ingredient that finally makes it click. Either way- don’t judge me too harshly, I promise not to let this become a slow descent into fussy-eaterdom, and that I’ll post a real recipe at the next possible opportunity.

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