Dhal

This recipe formed the basis for a good dhal. I’ve been meaning to work out how to make Dahl for ages but kept getting lost in insane black dhal recipes that take two days and a shit tonne of ghee.

This one worked brilliantly but…

– 7 cups of water is enough, watch and add more if required

– it took more like an hour to get to the right consistency 

– instead of 8 spoons of butter I used 5 of coconut. I put a bit of desiccated Coconut in there as well so something had the chance to go a bit brown and caramel-y. I might try using a little palm sugar next time 

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vegan chocolate cake

This recipe, in a 20cm tin

  • 200g (7 oz) plain flour
  • 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) water
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Lightly grease a 13x23cm loaf tin or a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared tin and bake at 180 C for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

 

This is very easy to make, so much so I made it with the help of two children. It is also sufficiently nice that non vegans will not notice it’s lacking in butter. It makes me question the necessity of eggs in baking.

For icing, I beat cold coconut oil (about 4 tbsp)  with chocolate powder (3 tbsp), icing sugar (8 tbsp?) and a dash of almond milk until it looks right.

You need to wait for the cake to cool if you’re doing this, or the oil melts and separates out.

We ate it before I could take a photo.

 

Best veg burgers yet

I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect veggie burger (or at least a very good one). I’ve basically found out that it’s quite easy. There’s a science to making the mix, and if you stick to it, it tends to work: mix a vegetable with a grain and a protein, add an egg, get it to the right consistency with panko and you’re done. The next thing is cooking: even if you ultimately plan to fry the burgers, start them off in the oven and they are far less likely to disintegrate.

So anyway, successful burgers so far have included Beetroot (veg), Feta (protein) and quinoa (grain), cauliflowerish ones, brocolli and canneloni beans. But the best have been these ones, but slightly adapted.

• firm tofu – half a packet
• 70g panko breadcrumbs
• 1/2 tsp miso paste (I use way more, more like a tablespoon)
• 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise (1 tablespoon)
• worcestershire sauce (Bulldog brand fruit sauce)
• 50g boiled edamame
• 1 carrot (a LARGE carrot)
• 1/4 onion (or a couple of shallots)
• 1 egg

I follow the recipe pretty much: mix the panko and the tofu until smooth, dice the carot and onion and saute, steam edamame beans briefly, then shell them, and (when the cooked stuff is cool) mix it all together. Divide into four patties, gently lift them onto a piece of baking parchment, cook in the oven for about ten minutes, then finish them by frying in olive oil.

These burgers are delicious served in a bun with kewpie mayonnaise, more Bulldog brand fruit sauce, and loads of roast sweet potato chips*. In the photo below, i’ve served them with THE BEST kimchi I’ve made ever, roast, gratinated purple sprouting and a bit of salad. They were nicer with the sweet potato, sweet potato really made them pop. I wonder whether they’d be good with tempura sweet potato next time.

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  • Cut potatos (skin on) into 1.5cm wide chips, toss in oil, sprinkle with Korean chilli flakes and salt and stick in the overn for 20ish minutes at 180c

 

 

 

Thirded bread

This is apparently an American colonial bread using rye and corn to bulk out wheat flour.

I couldn’t find a simple naturally fermented recipe on the web and so made one up. I figure early European Settlers didn’t have factory yeast.

My sourdough starter is additions of water and flour in equal weight

Note: I’d have swapped wholemeal flour for really strong white flour and white rye for wholemeal rye. Also I wonder what would happen were you to toast the polenta before you start.

330g each of coarse polenta, strong wholemeal flour, white rye

300g sourdough starter (white wheat)

430ml water

2tsp salt 

  • Mix the starter with the water (cold)
  • Mix the flours in another bowl
  • Pour some of the mixed flour into the wet mix
  • Stir well, keep adding flour till you have a thick batter. Cover the bowl with cling film. Make sure there’s enormous go space for it to depth a little 
  • Once this wet mix is clearly alive (12-18 hrs)…Stir salt into dry mix and mix it into the wet
  • Leave for an hour or so, then kneed 
  • let it rise for 12 hours, knock back a tiny bit, separate into two and proof in a loaf tins or baskets
  • slash the loafs and bake in a fan oven at a constant 220c (put a roast tray of water at the bottom to keep the oven steamy)
  • Remove when the loafs sound hollow when you knock their bottoms 
  • Swaddle in a clean dishcloth for a softer crust

Pescatarian Sondubu Jigae

This is a tasty winter warmer. I’ve departed so much from anything authentic I’m not sure I can still call it sondubu jigae.

It’s something I’ve made a few times before, normally with meat. Here’s the fishy vegetarian version I made successfully last night. The mushroom makes up for some of the umami lost by not using pork.

It’s based on a proper version found here.

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Ingredients:

  • 150ml very fermented kimchi, roughly sliced
  • 1 tbsp korean chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • five big mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • half a small onion, finely sliced
  • dashi stock from a packet
  • 250ml water
  • 2 tbsp kimchi juice
  • one pack tetrapak silken tofu
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • spring onions to serve

Method:

  • heat olive oil and sesame oil in a pan
  • saute onion until translucent
  • add mushrooms, saute until the start to shrink
  • add kimchi, garlic, chilli flakes
  • saute for a couple more minutes
  • add water, dashi stock powder, kimchi juice, fish sauve
  • simmer for a couple of minutes
  • stop here, put a lid on the pan and wait until you’re 8 minutes or so from eating.
  • when you’re ready…
  • warm stew up again to a simmer
  • open tofu, drain, and spoon into the stew
  • avoid stirring too much (you dont want the tofu to disintegrate)
  • warm tofu through (about five minutes)
  • serve with rice, using spring onions to garnish (in the photo, it’s served with spring greens stir fried with garlic in cocount oil, finished with sake and soya sauce and garnished with black sesame seeds. It would be better to serve it in small bowls with an egg cooked in the stew, but i don’t have the right cookware, and i didnt fancy an egg)

 

 

 

Fermented chilli sauce

I recently tried a second time to make fermented chilli sauce. 

First time I spent a tenner on chillis and ended up with a mouldy Kilmer jar of toxic mess.

This time it has cured. It’s been out of the fridge for over a week and it hasn’t so much as a spore on it. Oh and it tastes good too, if good means inedibly hot.


The secret was (I think) using sauerkraut as a starter.

So. I bought £6 of scotch bonnet chillis, probably about half a kilo. 

I’d made sauerkraut about two weeks beforehand (a red cabbage, shredded, salted and packed down in a sterilised jar, left with a lose lid and room temperature for three days, packed down every day, then sealed and left on the fridge, occasionally checking to avoid explosions).

To make the sauce I first blanched the chillis. I doubt this was necessary, but they’d been in a cash and carry in Brixton for yonks and had a couple of plumes of mould here and there. I stuck them in a colander and dipped them into boiling water for 30 secs then rinsed them in cold water to stop them cooking.

Once cool, the rest was easy. I whizzed the lot in a food processor with a teaspoon of sugar and one of salt and generous tablespoons of sauerkraut, then stuck it in a jar.

This is a bit more needy than other fermentations. I left it on the side for about 5 days, stirring once a day and covering the jar with a loose fitting lid. The fermentation was VERY vigorous: lots of bubbles, slight risk of explosion.

Once it calmed down, I put in the fridge, now it seems fine out.

The sauce is insanely hot, but you can still taste the pepper and the fermentation under the insanity. The red cabbage intensifies the colour as well as having the right microbes to get the party started.

rice bowl

IMG_2764.JPGRice bowls are the go to for easy eat in front of the TV food. Some bits of it can be time consuming, this one is easy.

Rice

I love Japanese rice. For some reason it’s hard to find reliable instructions on how to cook it in a simple rice cooker.

My easy to follow instructions:

  • use nishiki rice, the one that says you dont need to wash it (if you dont use nishiki rice you have to wash it 8 times in cold water, and it is a pain)
  • measure 300ml of rice for 2 people.
  • add 400ml of water
  • leave to soak for a minimum of 45 mins, but preferably for an hour
  • cook normally in the rice cooker, leave on warm for at least 10 mins
  • fluff with a fork

Tofu

I always use Mori-nu. It’s not the best, but you can keep it in the cupboard forever. I always cook it before i use it, which is probably supersition.

Here, I simply took it out of the pack and steamed in a metal steamer for about 5 minutes. When it’s done, spoon it over the rice.

Sauce

This recipe from (the very good food blog) beyond kimchi is my go to easy tofu sauce. Basically, mix up all of:

  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Korean soy sauce for soup (gook ganjang or chosun ganjang)
  • 2 -3 teaspoon Korean chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon water

And spoon it over the tofu.

NOTES: Korean chilli flakes are something specific, dont use other chilli powder, it will be too hot. Similarly soya sauce for soup is specific, although Tamari would work if you dont have goog ganjak. London peeps: there are loads of korean delis around, especially in the west end (e.g. new oxford street, by the museum) and obvs morden.

Mushrooms

Every day normal mushrooms, sliced thickly, and cooked in the Elizabeth David method. Put oil in a large hot pan. stick the mushrooms in, make sure they are in a single layer with A LOT of space in between, at least a cm, they shouldn’t touch. Cook until they go brown and almost fluffy, then turn. This is how you make palatable fried mushrooms, rather than the nasty slimey greasy stuff you usually get.

To serve with this meal, I then take the pan off the heat, and put a generous slug of Mirin in the pan (i’d use xiaojoing wine or sake if i had no mirin, but the sweetness is nice).

Kale

This is a variation on my standard Kale With Too Much Garlic. This is Kale With Too Much Garlic and Katsup Manis.

Using crappy pre cut kale from Sainsbury’s, heat a wok, add a bit of olive oil, put the kale in the pan, stir, add about 5 cloves of crushed garlic (or just take much you’d normally put in, however much you think is ‘enough’, and double it, this is called Kale With Too Much Garlic for a reason)

If you want, it can be quite nice to stir in some black sesame seeds (looks nice, dont think i’d notice the taste)

When the kale is wilted and the garlic is starting to burn, take off the heat and stir in a few dashes of katsup manis (if you don’t have this, just mix soya sauce with sugar)

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower burgers

My daughter has been singing her harvest festival song for yonks now.

The repeated refrain of Cauliflowers fluffy reminded me of the concept of cauliflower burgers. I looked around on the internet, and liked the look of this one.

It worked very well, but:

  • Cups, wtf? really? a cup of cheddar is what exactly? I did just make it up, and I think i used a higher cauliflower to everything else. the burgers were a tiny bit crumbly, but did work
  • a tiny bit of red cabbage. What am I meant to do with the rest? I ended up shredding the whole thing, and now have a crock of red cabbage sauerkraut on the go (which I’d use as the garnish if i make this again)… simple: shred the cabbage with a mandolin, massage with a tablespoon of salt, pack hard into a parfait jar so the liquid covers the cabbage, then leave with a loose cover for a couple of days, repacking every so often. When it’s stopped bubbling./ calmed down, snap the lid shut.
  • half an avocado? I stuck the whole thing in
  • The ‘burgers’ were underseasoned, I’d not hold back on the salt.
  • served with shop bought aioli and sweet potato fries (200c in the oven for 35 mins)
  • I made 3 burgers instead of four. tbh, i think four would have been pretty measly.

Overall verdict: this was quite difficult to make, time consuming and I was unsure what the outcome would be. That said, they were really very nice, and the colours were beautiful. You could successfully do most of the prep in advance, and then just stick them in the oven in the last moment. I would make again if I was cooking dinner for a vegetarian who I really liked and who was grateful for nice food.

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