Recipe of the Week – 14th August 2017 – Vietnamese Potato and Aubergine Curry


This recipe provides a nice twist on what for me is a regular curry staple in our house. The use of some slightly different additional herbs and spices provides more depth and complexity to the overall taste which gives each mouthful a slightly different flavour. The fried onions and the addition of chutneys also makes this feel like much more than a standard evening meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g baby potatoes, halved 

2 large aubergines, cut into 2 cm dice

1 large onion, chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass, inner core chopped 

1 stick of dried cinnamon 

1 star anise

1 small green chilli, finely chopped

2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs medium curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 x 400ml can of coconut milk

1 tsp dried basil

1 small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to season

For the onion relish

2 large onions, finely sliced

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

Method

1. Place the diced aubergine cubes in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse the set aside.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the potatoes and par boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. In another large saucepan add the oil and gently sauté the chopped onions, ginger, garlic and chilli for 10 minutes. Add the lemongrass, cinnamon, star anise and dried spices and mix well. 

4. Add the potatoes and aubergines to the pan, mix to coat well then add 100ml of water. Bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Remove the whole spices then add the dried and fresh herbs and coconut milk. Season, cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile in a separate small pan add the remaining oil and fry the sliced onions, garam masala and chilli powder for 10 minutes until crispy.

7. Serve the curry with the onions, together with plain boiled rice and a selection of chutneys.

Recipe of the Week – 31st July 2017 – Quick Aubergine and Potato Brunch


This is a really simple recipe that I played around with last week when looking for a quick but satisfying light lunch. It’s a bit like a gratin, but also a bit like sautéed potatoes. I was very pleased (and a bit surprised!) with the results, and my children want me to do it again, so something must have gone ok!

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g baby potatoes, halved

2 large aubergines, diced

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

100g frozen peas

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

50g grated mature cheddar cheese (optional if vegan)

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Place the diced aubergine in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes then rinse thoroughly and drain.

2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water, and parboil for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. In a large frying pan (I used a wok), heat the oil and add the aubergines and potatoes. Stir well to cover with the oil, add the herbs and cover the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft. 

4. Add the peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Season and stir well. Stir in the cheese if using.

6. Serve immediately with a salad or some fresh bread.

Recipe of the Week – 10th July 2017 – Moroccan Aubergine and Potato Rice


I’m not sure where I got the inspiration for this recipe from – I think it was equal parts my love of aubergines and Moroccan spices, and what was available in the fridge at the time! Hopefully the end result is more than the sum of its parts though. I personally found it very satisfying and filling and will probably be making it again very soon!

Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

Ingredients

3 large aubergines, cut into 1cm thick slices, then halved

100g baby potatoes, cut into wedges

2 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

5 tbs olive oil

2 tbs Ras-el-hanout

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1 tsp cumin seeds

200g long grain or basmati rice, rinsed

1 x 400ml tin on coconut milk

50g sultanas

Handful of fresh pistachios 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. In a large bowl, add the aubergine slices, potato wedges, onion, garlic and spices. Drizzle the oil over and mix well. Place on a large baking tray and put in the oven for 25 minutes until brown.

3. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a large saucepan of slightly salted boiling water until soft (approx. 12 minutes). Drain, rinse and return to the pan. Stir in the coconut milk and sultanas, season, and simmer gently for 5 minutes until sticky.

4. When cooked, add the vegetables to the rice, stir well, sprinkle the pistachios over and serve immediately.

Recipe of the Week – 26th June 2017 – Butternut Squash Noodle Salad


When the weather is warm (as it has been, unusually, here in the North of England), I often struggle to find inspiration to create new salad combinations. This recipe is based upon one I have tried before, as a Japanese Noodle Salad to eat as a side dish with veggie sushi. The roasted butternut squash cubes become even sweeter when cooled and really compliment the ginger and the noodles to give a filling yet refreshing salad which works as a side or as a main meal.

Serves 4 as a main meal

Ingredients 

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes

1 large pack of dried noodles (egg or rice)

4 large spring onions, finely sliced

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

100g raw cashew nuts

5 tbs sunflower oil

1 small piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 green chilli, finely chopped

5 tbs soy sauce

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Place the butternut squash cubes on a large baking tray, sprinkle with the oil, season and roast for 25 minutes until soft.

2. Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan of boiling water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then rinse, drain and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, chopped ginger, chilli and garlic and season well. 

4. Toss together the noodles, butternut squash cubes and all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

5. Chill for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe of the Week – 12th June 2017 – Baked Tofu Mushrooms with Salsa Verde


This recipe is for something a bit different for a light evening meal. I think that mushrooms are often used merely as an ingredient, rather than being given a chance to be the centrepiece. This is a variation on a Spanish recipe using feta cheese, but I have ‘veganised’ it using marinated tofu – both work as well, and I recommend also experimenting with adding nuts such as crushed toasted cashews or walnuts. The salsa keeps well by the way and can be used as a dressing on lots of other things, such as fresh pasta or salads.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large field mushrooms, wiped clean and stalks removed

1 pack plain tofu, diced

6 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Juice of a lemon

100g fresh baby spinach leaves

Small each handful of fresh parsley and coriander

Salt and pepper 

Method

1. Marinade the diced tofu overnight in a dressing of 2 tbs olive oil and the juice of half the lemon.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. In a small cup, mix together half of the crushed garlic and 2 tbs olive oil. Brush the mixture to the underside of the mushrooms and place on a baking tray.

4. Add the tofu to each mushroom and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, add the spinach, herbs, remaining garlic, oil and lemon juice to a food processor. Season and pulse until smooth.

6. When the mushrooms are lightly brown, place a generous helping of the salsa on top, and serve with spicy wedges and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 5th June 2017 – Mini Veggie Quiches


There is something about making a good quiche that is really satisfying – I like the way that you can use any combination of fillings, plus they are generally as good cold as they are warm. Here is the recipe for two of my favourite ones that flew off the shelves in my cafe recently – Leek & Cheese and Butternut Squash & Red Pepper.

Makes 2 large or 6 small quiches

Ingredients

Pastry

230g plain wholemeal flour

120g butter

120g margarine

1 tsp English mustard powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of salt

120g grated mature cheese

100ml water

For the filling

4 large free range eggs

150ml single cream

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper

1 large leek, sliced and gently sautéed, plus 30g mature cheddar cheese, grated, or,

1 small butternut squash, finely diced, plus 1 red pepper, finely sliced

Method

1. Mix all of the pastry ingredients in a food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then slowly add water to bind to a dough. knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs, cream, herbs and salt and pepper together.

3. When chilled, roll out the pastry and line a 2 x 9″ flan tins or 6 x 4″ tins.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put a baking tray in the oven to preheat.

5. Add the leeks, or quash and peppers to half-fill the tin and pour the egg and cream mixture over. Top with grated cheese.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown. Serve hot or cold.

Recipe of the Week – 22nd May 2017 – Cauliflower and Cashew Biryani


I have always felt that the cauliflower is one of the most maligned and neglected vegetables, yet it is very versatile. It’s proper use in a number of dishes is a long way away from the over-boiled mush that some people may remember from their childhood. This recipe really highlights it’s subtle flavours whilst adding great texture, and it’s very filling!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients 

300g basmati rice, rinsed and drained

1 medium cauliflower cut into small florets

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

25g root ginger, grated

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

600ml hot vegetable stock from bouillon

1 x 200g bag young-leaf spinach

50g cashews, toasted and chopped

3 tbs coriander leaves, roughly chopped

3 free range eggs

Salt and pepper

Mango chutney, to serve

Method

1. Place the cauliflower florets in a large pan of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes only. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan then fry the onion, covered, over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, cashews and spices and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the rice and stir. Add the cauliflower and pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until the rice and cauliflower are tender. 

3. Add half the spinach to the pan, remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with 1 tbs water, season and fry in a small saucepan with 1 tbs sunflower oil until set as a thin omelette. Set aside.

5. Season, add the remaining spinach and coriander and top with a slice of the omelette. Serve immediately with mango chutney.