Cauliflower With Mustard Sauce

This is another contribution from landysrock (cheers). Unfortunately, I don’t like overly mustard-flavoured things (a teaspoon or so in a curry or stew is my limit) but, for those who do, it probably doesn’t get much simpler than this unless you’re squeezing some on a veggiedog.

Goes with anything! Serves 4-6.

  • 600ml unsweetened soya milk
  • A good size cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 3 tbs of soya marg
  • 3 tbs of plain flour
  • 3 tbs of Dijon / wholegrain mustard

Steam / boil the cauliflower for about 5-10 mins and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the marge in a small saucepan and add the flour to combine, mix for 1 min on a gentle heat then add the mustard and mix through. Gradually pour in the soya milk mixing continuously into a smooth sauce while bringing to the boil, then simmer gently for 4-5 mins.

Place the cauliflower into an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over the top, grill for about 5 mins or so until the top is golden brown.

Jamaican Fritters

If you’ve got the munchies and want a fairly quick and filling snack, these should fit the bill. They’re a variation on the Indian pakora, but the addition of the buckwheat flour seems to make them both lighter and more substantial. If you don’t have buckwheat flour, just replace it with extra chickpea flour. They’re nice and fatty so don’t eat too many or you won’t have enough room for beer.

Makes about 12-15 decent-sized fritters.

  • 1/2 cup chickpea (gram) flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbs soya flour (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Rajah jerk seasoning powder (different brands may need adjustment)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-2 pinches chili flakes
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1-inch cube fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium potato, grated
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
  • Water as needed
  • Oil for deep-frying

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a bowl. Then slowly start whisking in water until you have a thick batter. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix that in too. Add the ginger and garlic to the batter and stir through. Use your hands to mix the carrot, potato, celery and onion together on the chopping board, then dump the whole lot into the batter. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until everything is completely coated.

Put the oil in a pan (I use a wok) – you want it around an inch and a half deep. Place on a medium heat and give it a few minutes to reach a decent temperature. Use a spoon and drop / scoop dollops of the batter mix into the oil. You’ll get around 3-4 at a time into a wok. Let them cook for a couple of minutes or so on one side then flip ’em over and do the same until they’re a nice tan colour all over. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain for a minute on kitchen paper (or newspaper if you’re a cheapskate like me). Eat hot, warm or cold, maybe with some kind of sauce or dip and definitely with a cold beer.

Tomato & Red Onion Salad With A Punchy Dressing

Simple things can often give the greatest pleasure, much like your humble author. This salad and dressing is one of them.

Makes however much you want (salad) and loads (dressing).

For the salad:

  • As many tomatoes as you need for the number of people eating it – cherry tomatoes are best and should be halved, larger tomatoes should be divided as appropriate
  • 1 large red onion for every 6-10 people (depending on your personal tastes), halved lengthways and thinly sliced
  • You could add a rib of thinly sliced celery if the mood takes you

Gently mix them together in a suitably-sized bowl.

For the dressing:

  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp whole dried peppercorns
  • 4 tbs olive oil, as good as you can afford
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp basil, minced

Crush the salt and peppercorns together in a pestle and mortar, spice mill etc. and put into a screw-top jar. Add the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and basil, screw on the lid and shake vigourously for a few seconds. Pour desired amount over the salad and gently mix to coat everything. Store any leftover dressing in the jar in the fridge and it’ll keep for quite a few days – I pretty much guarantee you’ll finish it off before it actually goes off.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, try adding a pinch or two of cayenne pepper powder and/or replacing some/all of the balsamic vinegar with a few teaspoons of lemon/lime juice and maybe a pinch of caster sugar. Use your tongue and get creative (as the actress said to the bishop).

Thick Onion Soup

A big thanks to landysrock, one of our readers, for this contribution. It sounds perfect for a chilly autumnal eve or a typical British summer’s day.

Got more onions than you can juggle with? Thick onion soup!

  • 75g soya marge
  • 500g onions(finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 40g plain flour
  • 600ml veg stock
  • 600ml soya milk
  • 2-3tsp lemon/lime juice
  • Good pinch of allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 carrot(coarsely grated)
  • 4-6 tbs soya cream (thick one if possible)
  • Pepper

Melt the marge on a medium-low heat, add onions and garlic then fry gently for about 15 mins until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for a further minute then raise the heat to medium and gradually add stock. Bring to boil, stirring all the time. Stir in the soya milk and bring to boil again. Season with pepper, stir in the lemon/lime juice, and add the allspice and bay leaf. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 mins until the onions are tender. Chuck the bay leaf out, add the carrots and cook for 2-3 mins more, then stir in the soya cream and re-heat. Sprinkle a bit of parsley on the top and there you go!

Balilah

I’m always open to new ways of incorporating the humble, yet delicious, chickpea into my diet. Legumes generally lend themselves well to all manner of savoury (and even sweet) food, but the chickpea has a soft spot in my stomach. I simply can’t imagine a world without hummus.

Randy (of Insurgence Records / Rebel Time Records) kindly passed this recipe for balilah, a chickpea salad, on to me. He claims no credit for originality – the dish is a traditional Palestinian one (which probably means that, just like hummus, there are variations found in every household across the Middle East). But he says it’s so good, it deserves to be spread around. He’s right. It’s almost hummus without the hard work, with the added bonus of lots of distinctive flavour hits as you chomp your way through each mouthful. It’s fresh, substantial, cheap and perfect on its own or with a few other things thrown in too – I’ve added tomatoes to one bowl and fresh baby spinach to another and both worked a treat.

Serves 4-6

3 cups canned chickpeas, drained
3 spring onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cumin (for best flavour use whole seeds, gently toast ’em for a few minutes, then grind ’em up in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder)
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chickpeas, spring onions and parsley together in a bowl.

Whisk or shake the rest of the ingredients together in another suitable container, then pour over the chickpeas and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for 10 minutes so everything mingles nicely then eat, preferably with friends and a cold white wine in the garden on a balmy summer’s eve.

Seitanic Mass

I’ve read so much over the years about this mysterious wonderfood called seitan, but never been able to find the basic ingredient (wheat gluten powder) in the UK, at least not within a reasonable price range, to have a go at making it myself. There’s a long-winded way to knock some up with ordinary flour, but it takes fucking forever (I know, I’ve tried) and you lose loads of bulk when you rinse it out, ending up with a tiny lump of the stuff (not to mention all the water used – there’s only so much waste water a small garden will absorb before technically becoming a swamp). Gluten powder has all the hard work done.

Now, thanks to the interwebs, I’ve found somewhere that offers it at a great price per kilo and will deliver up to 30 kilos for a fixed cost (just under a fiver). I bought 5 kilos and, even with the postage, it’s a good deal. If a group of vegans (what’s the collective noun for a group of vegans – a righteousness?) chip in and put in a bulk order, it’s a total bargain.

I’ve tried a couple of recipes so far, one of which involves boiling the seitan in stock so it comes out looking like a brain but slices up in a very meaty fashion (taken from Robin Robertson’s fantastic ‘1000 Vegan Recipes’), and one from the ever-dependable Post-Punk Kitchen that turns it into a salami sausage or loaf (depending on whether you make one roll or two). Although the boiled stuff is good (and essential for many recipes), the salami recipe is definitely the one that’s gonna be seeing regular action in my kitchen. Seriously, this stuff slices perfectly for sarnies, can be part of your pizza topping, chopped into pasta (sauce), stir-fried, diced into a chili or whatever other creative urge takes your fancy (although I wouldn’t recommend it on a cheesecake).

I’ve just found a new addiction.

Mafé

A recent chat about things people love over at the Red & Anarchist Black Metal forum led to someone (thanks Starcide) sending me this delicious recipe. Mafé, or peanut stew, is a traditional dish eaten by the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia. They have no hesitation in adding chunks of dead stuff to theirs, but it’s simply a matter of replacing that bit with life-friendly ingredients to make it suitably vegan. I used tofu, but a tin of beans is equally as good.

This is a substantial dish and will easily serve four with some rice, bulghur wheat, couscous etc., and salad.

  • 125ml veg oil
  • 250g firm tofu, drained and marinated (I used shoyu and vegan Worcestershire sauce) or a 400g tin of beans (kidney are good)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 225g peanut butter (no added sugar)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (I liquidise mine)
  • 2 tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 fresh red jalopeño chilli (left whole for mild heat or, as I prefer, finely sliced for a bit more punch)
  • 300g (chopped and) cooked veg e.g. carrot, potato, squash, aubergine (I used a mix of carrot, sweetcorn and mushroom)
  • 250ml light stock / water (use any leftover veg cooking water)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)
  • Shredded fresh herb (e.g. basil, coriander, parsley) to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil, preferably in a large pot, and fry the tofu (if using) over a medium-high heat first. Remove when nicely browned, then add the onion to the same oil. Once it begins to soften, add the red pepper, chilli and any other fryable veg (such as mushroom) and fry for a few minutes more. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomatoes and tomato pureé, bring to a simmer then add the peanut butter, lime juice if using and enough stock to make a thickish sauce. Simmer again for a few minutes, then add the tofu / drained  beans and the rest of the veg. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly and adding more stock / water if needed.

Serve over whatever carb you’ve chosen, sprinkle on the herbs, give it a grind of pepper and scoff.

Carrot, Lentil and Citrus Soup (And An Apology)

Carrot & Citrus SoupFirst off, I seem to have missed a week. I thought today was the first Monday of the month. Seems I was wrong. Sorry. I haven’t been slacking, in fact I’ve been far busier than normal and am only about halfway trhough getting shit together for this month’s posts. There will be music, bugs and free plants to follow over the coming weeks and months, so be patient.

Until then, here’s a fresh yet hearty little number that is guaranteed to give you a zing. I think it’s just as good in the summer as the winter and, if you took out the lentils and added a bit more carrot, would even work chilled if you like that kind of thing.

Serves 4 as a snack or 6 as a starter.

  • 1 tbs olive / veg oil
  • 500g carrots, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 stick celery, diced
  • 2 tbs coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2cm cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 175g red lentils
  • 1.5l light (half-strength) veg stock
  • Juice of 2 oranges (approx 200ml)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Orange, lemon and lime zest, finely shredded
  • A few stalks of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot on a medium-low heat and stir in the onion and celery. Fry for a couple of minutes, then stir in the carrots, cover the pot and sweat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Heat a small pan on a medium-low heat and dry-fry the spices for a couple of minutes, shaking regularly, until they darken and begin to give off a nice whiff. Remove from the heat and crush the spices in a pestle and mortar (or spice mill if you’re a lazy git).

Remove the lid from the large pot and add the spices, ginger and garlic to the veg. Add a good grind of black pepper if you fancy. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the stock and lentils to the pot, bring to the boil, cover then simmer on a medium heat for around 20-25 minutes, until the lentils and carrots are soft. Around halfway through cooking, add the fruit juices. Don’t forget to stir the soup now and again.

Blitz the whole lot with a hand blender or similar until it’s nice and smooth. Put into bowls and garnish with a few shreds of the zest and a bit of chopped coriander.

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate TrufflesWhile I generally try to keep my recipes here free of less common manufactured products, sometimes you just need to break the rules. This recipe is one of those times. The ends really does justify the means – the rich melt-in-the-mouth creaminess and intense chocolate hit of the finished product is incredible.

Makes about 25, lasts about as many seconds if you have friends around.

  • 150ml vegan ‘double cream’ (CremoVita or similar – other brands may need a bit of trial and error)
  • 200g plain chocolate, broken up (try flavoured plain chocolate too)
  • 25g vegan margarine (hard if possible)
  • Cocoa powder to coat

Bring the cream to a gentle boil then remove from the heat (you can also microwave it in short bursts to the same temp – don’t worry if it seperates a bit, it’ll soon recombine when you start mixing). Add the chocolate and stir gently until it’s completely melted and blended with the cream. It should be a nice even colour. Try to avoid getting air bubbles into the mix.

Add the margarine, cut into 3-4 lumps, and continue to gently stir until it’s fully incorporated into the mix. The surface should be glossy with no oil ‘slick’.

Chill the mix in the fridge for at least 4 hours (and preferably overnight). Remove from the fridge. Put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder in a bowl and sprinkle a bit more on your hands (add more cocoa powder to the bowl or your hands as needed). Use a teaspoon to scoop out a lump of the truffle mix. Roll it into a ball in your palms, drop it into the cocoa powder, roll it around a bit until it’s fully coated, remove, give a gentle shake in your palm to get the excess powder off, and put in an airtight box. Keep in the fridge, where they’ll theoretically last for several days (although my money says that your tastebuds won’t give ’em that long).

I’ve yet to experiment with this basic mix, but the idea of alcohol (especially brandy) and / or coffee added at the melt n’ mix stage will soon be investigated further.

Chili Bean Spread

Another cheap n’ cheerful spread that can be made in minutes from things that are probably lurking in your larder and fridge.

  • 1 400g (approx) tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp harissa (or just use another tsp of tomato purée)
  • 1 tbs paprika powder
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp toasted cumin seed, roughly crushed
  • 1/2 tsp toasted coriander seed, roughly crushed
  • 1-2 good pinches of red chili flakes
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Approx 3-4 stalks of fresh coriander or 6 fresh basil leaves or a mix of the two
  • A good grind of black pepper
  • Salt to taste

If you’re using fresh coriander, strip and use the leaves only (you can chop the leftover stalks and add ’em to soups, stews etc., or just put ’em on your compost heap).

To toast the seeds, put a heavy-based pan or non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat and allow to get hot. Put the seeds into the pan and shake around for a minute or two until they start to darken and give off a good smell. Then give ’em a quick smash in a pestle and mortar if possible, otherwise;

Put everything into a (mini) food processor or hand blender jug (more work). If you don’t have any sort of electric blender, you can simply mash everything by hand with a fork – it works just fine, but you’ll definitely need to crush the seeds first. You’ll also need to finely chop whatever herbs you’re using.

Blitz until everything’s nice and smooth. You’ll probably need to scrape the sides down a few times while it’s being mashed up to make sure it all gets done.

Goes great on thick, crisp toast with some chunky slices of tomato, another quick grind of black pepper, and a few more leaves of basil or coriander roughly chopped and thrown on.

If you don’t have kidney beans, pretty much any other sort of tinned bean will do. The same goes for the seasonings (although garlic is pretty essential in most things IMHO). As with most things cooking-related, experiment.

Interesting garlic fact (that I’ve just found out) – the beneficial compounds in garlic are maximised if you smash or crush the cloves and leave for 10 minutes before using. Crazy allium chemistry occurs that makes garlic even better for you, and it’s damned good to start with. If possible, you should also only add it ten minutes before the end of cooking to retain these extra-healthy properties – the garlic will taste more ‘raw’, but I like that anyway. And seeing as this recipe uses raw garlic to start with, all you’ve got to do is smash it, make a nice cuppa and enjoy a little sit-down before you do the hard work of opening the tin of beans.

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