Monday, 22 May 2017

Vegan Chinese Braised Tofu & Soya Mince

Still trying to stick to a vegan Monday, I found this on a vegan recipe site.  Kids thought it was 'okay' and asked what the meat was

1tbsp sunflower oil
1 large handful dried soya mince
3 finely chopped spring onions (I didn't have any and only managed to find a few chives in the garden)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
500ml vegetable stock
4tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2tsp chilliu flakes
350g firm or silken tofu

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients minus the tofu and simmer for about 20 minutes until the soya mince has fully hydrated.  Cube the tofu and add 5  minutes before serving.  Firm tofu will keep it's shape whereas silken tofu will break down and crumble as mine did.

Serve with rice.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Vegetarian Bolognaise Ragu Sauce

Every Monday I try to make a vegan evening meal, in part a culinary challenge, and in part following a BBC programme (so it must be true) that we need less animal protein as we get older.  Monday is also #meatlessmonday #meatfreemonday on social media.

A traditional Italian tomato sauce is, by it's very nature, a vegan sauce hailing as it does from the poor protein-low diet of Southern Italy.  But I wanted to fool my kids into thinking they were having a normal Spag Bol.  And this sauce is certainly very convincing, particularly if you use a food processor to render all the vegetables into a mincelike texture.

Serves 6
1 onion
1 stick of celery
1 carrot
1 large clove of garlic
100g mushrooms
1 handful dried soya mince (optional, but this is what gives the sauce a meaty texture for the unconverted)
100ml red or white wine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 can boiling water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 vegetable stock cube (optional - it gives a meaty depth of flavour, again for the unconverted)
1tbsp olive oil

Start by soaking the soya mince, if you are using it, in the wine.

Peel the onion and chop finely/mince in a food processor.  Fry gently in the olive oil in a saucepan whilst you finely chop the celery, carrot (I usually just wash but not peel carrots if I'm mincing them), and garlic.  Add these to the pan to soften once they are chopped.  Brush any dirt off the mushrooms and mince them, again adding them to the pan once chopped.  Pop a lid on the pan and let everything sweat for 5-10 minutes.

Once the vegetables have sweated down, or the pan has started to dry out, stir in the tomato paste, blitz the chopped tomatoes into a passata, and add the remaining ingredients.  Add boiling water until the sauce is a gloopy Bolognaise quality.  Put the lid on and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

After 20 minutes, check the seasoning.  If the sauce is too loose, take the lid off and reduce over a gentle heat.  If too thick, add a little boiling water (or more wine!).  Once the desired consistency either leave to stand for the flavours to develop or serve immediately.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Stovetop & Slow Cooker Lamb Daube

This is just a simple lamb stew, but the addition of orange lifts it to a different level.

Serves 4

500g cubed lamb
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4 large clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 large carrot (or a sweet potato), cut into lamb sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml white wine
500ml recently boiled water
1 small orange, quartered
1 lamb or chicken stock cube
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs

Fry the onion, celery, and carrot if using, in the olive oil until it starts to brown.  Add the lamb and fry until it looks sealed on all sides.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil, then simmer for for about half an hour or the carrot/sweet potato is soft.  Season to taste, and remove the orange quarters before serving with mashed or boiled potatoes.  Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, whose recipe in 'Meat' I based my lamb version on, suggests stirring pre-cooked macaroni through the hot sauce instead.

After bringing to boil, this could all be plonked in a slow cooker and left to cook on High for 6 hours.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Nettle Soup

Running, well walking, today I could not help noticing the lush green verges.  And so I decided to make Nettle Soup, not only for me, but for Alresford Country Market too.  It will be an interesting experiment as I think not many people will buy it, imagining that a stinging nettle could not be made into anything palatable.  But it can.  Once the nettles are wilted in boiling water the stinging hairs are history, and all you are left with is a mild spinach-like fibre rich green.

Pick only the top 2 or 4 leaves with a gardening or kitchen glove on.  Pinch the top two leaves between your fingers and pull.  If the whole stalk comes out of the ground just stand on the root and pinch off the tender top growth.

Makes 2 litres (Serves 6)
1 mixing bowl/half a carrier bag of nettle tops
1 large potato
1 large onion
1 large garlic clove
1 tbsp olive oil
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 litre boiled water

Soak the nettle tops in a bowl of water whilst you peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion, and roughly chop the potato.

Gently soften the onion and garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil for a few minutes then add the potato.  Rinse the nettles and wash again, just like spinach, and remove with a slotted spoon into the saucepan.  Add the stock cube and water, bring to the boil, then simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

Blitz with a sticker blender and serve.



French or Runner Beans with Garlic Butter

This is just what it sounds, and is the only way my kids eat green beans.  So much so they were trying to steal them off my plate last night.  In fact this is always so successful I am wondering now whether it will work with broad beans...


Steam your beans for 5-10 minutes. Crush or finely grate over a small garlic bulb and stir in a knob of butter, mixing the beans, garlic, & melting butter through.

Monday, 3 April 2017

African Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew

Thank you Riverford for including a recipe for Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew in your vegbox a few weeks ago.
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The kids are not huge fans of sweet potato, and making a dish essentially of 'just sweet potato' was a bit of a gamble.  But half way through tea, and the gamble appears to be paying off.

The recipe in the link above seems to be slightly different to the one I received with my vegbox, and as I didn't have all the ingredients this is what I ended up making.  It reminds me of tagines. 

Serves 6 

1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
200g Portobello mushrooms (didn't have any)
2 garlic cloves 
25g fresh ginger (didn't have any - used 1tsp ground instead)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 tbsp tomato pureĆ© 
2 tsp ground cumin 
2 tsp ground coriander 
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper (I used 1tsp smoked paprika) 
1 tin chopped tomatoes 
150g red rice (didn't use any)
2 vegetable stock cubes (Riverford recipe did not include any stock)
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter 
200g spinach (used kale instead), finely shredded

Fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes.  Once it begins to colour, add the garlic, spices, and tomato paste.  Once you can smell the hot spices strongly, add the sweet potato and tinned tomatoes.  Add two cans of recently boiled water and bring to the boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover, and leave to cook for 30 minutes stirring from time to time.

After half an hour add the crumbled vegetable stock cubes, peanut butter, and kale.  Stir well to break up the stock cubes and peanut butter and cook with a lid on for a further 10 minutes until the kale is tender.

I'm serving this with brown rice tonight.

NB. Before finding the recipe leaflet I googled sweet potato+peanut+stew.  I turned up many recipes, one of which I noted was cooked in a slow cooker.  If cooking this in a slow cooker I would simply add all the ingredients, including the peanut butter and kale, to the slow cooker without bothering to fry anything at the start.  Next time we get sweet potatoes in the vegbox maybe I'll give it a go.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew

This is my version of Mary Berry's Beef & Ale Stew, adapted for the slow cooker, and minus the horseradish dumplings.  Although I have posted a Slow Cooker Beef in Beer before (with dumplings I note), this recipe has to be my new favourite.  I am not a fan of stewed vegetables in stews, with the exception of mushrooms which give this dish a really rich flavour.  That and the beer.

Serves 4
2–3 tbsp olive oil
800g braising beef, shin or ox cheek, cut into cubes
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
200g mushrooms, cut to the same size as the beef
50g plain flour
500ml ale
150ml just boiled water
1 beef stock cube

Switch the slow cooker onto high to warm.

Cube the beef and brown in batches 1tbsp oil in a saucepan.  When brown, remove each batch to the warming slow cooker leaving behind as much oil as possible.  After the beef is browned, fry the onions in the saucepan, adding more oil if needed.  When brown add these to the slow cooker, and fry the mushrooms and carrot again with a little more oil if needed.  Remove these to the slow cooker after a few minutes.

Whisk a little ale into the flour to make a smooth paste then whisk in the remaining ale.  Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and add both the stock and ale to the saucepan.  Bring to the boil, scraping off all the meat, onion, & mushroom bits that will have stuck to the pan.  Once boiling, turn off the heat and stir into the meat in the slow cooker.  Cover the stew and cook for 6-8 hours when the meat will be meltingly soft.

We are serving ours with mashed potato and greens.