Thursday, 31 March 2011

Aubergine & Mushrooms in Coconut Sauce

This piece of 'jazz cooking' worked out pretty well. The absolute key to aubergine my experience is to cook it for absolutely bloody ages... as long as you can, until it's falling to pieces; then it's delicious. Try to rush aubergine and it will taste like you've cut the uppers out of your oldest pair of shoes and attempted to serve them up as an appetiser. So, open a bottle of wine, turn on the radio, and take some time with this one...


1 small onion, chopped
1 small aubergine, chopped
6 or 7 mushrooms, sliced
Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
200 ml coconut milk
100 ml of veg bouillon or stock
2 tsp tamari or dark soy sauce
Tsp corn flour


Prepare the chopped aubergine by sprinkling it with salt and leaving to stand for a few minutes and then immerse in boiled water for a few minutes. The salting is dead important as it reduces any bitterness, and also makes the aubergine less absorbent of any fats you're using.

Heat the oil in a wok, and over a over a moderate heat, start cooking the onions and aubergine together. Cook for a good while - 20 minutes or so - until they're well browned. Now add the mushroom and garlic and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, and then add the coriander, coconut milk, vegetable stock and soy sauce.

Bring to a very gentle simmer for another 5 minutes or so. At the same time mix the cornflour with a little cold water to produce a creamy mix. Pour into the wok, gradually, until the mixture thickens up to your preferred consistency.

Serve up over some super-fluffy rice. Sprinkle with some more fresh coriander and sesame seeds if you're feeling posh.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Spinach and Chick Pea Wraps

Now then. The picture's a bit dicky on this one as I left my Olympus Pen at work and had to use my wife's Canon Ixus (lovely though it is, it's not up to food photos), so apologies for slight drop in standards. This dish was a complete experiment but worked out really well - it's very, very difficult to cock up chick peas and spinach, a dream combo. The only other thing I'd say is that this filling was fun in the wraps but would be quite dreamy in filo or puff pastry; hell you could even use it as the filling for vegan vol-au-vents!


Tbsp vegetable oil
One small onion
3 cloves garlic
300g chick peas, drained
Tbsp tahini
Tsp sea salt
Tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp mirin (or syrup)
Tbsp dried coriander
3 splashes hot pepper sauce
Tbsp sesame oil
220g frozen leaf spinach, decorated and drained
100g bean sprouts
100 ml veg stock
3 or 4 deli style wraps

Mix the tahini, sea salt, vinegar, mirin, coriander, hot pepper sauce and sesame oil together and set to one side for use in a moment.  In a wok, fry the onion in the vegetable oil until it starts to brown,  then add garlic and continue to fry another minute or two. You want them a bit crispy; a bit caramelised; so let hem take their time. Then add the chick peas and fry for another five minutes or until the chick peas look to be browning a bit. Don't cook for too long as they can explode, take to the air, and possibly take you out in a way you thought impossible for a chick pea. At this point add the sauce and cook for another five minutes, then add the spinach and the beansprouts. Cook for five more minutes and leave to rest.

In a dry frying pan heat the wraps through for 15 seconds or so, then spoon in the mixture and wrap them up. I served the wraps up with a little salad and some homemade chips.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Potato and leek bake with sweet garlic broccoli

Okay. Even the lovely people at Riverford Farms have admitted we've waded through a lot of leeks this winter. I reckon this is their last hurrah for a good half year or so in our house... in fact I risk some kind of insurrection otherwise. Seasonal eating, eh? Actually there are some leek recipes I could still hurl in - like vegan leek pancakes, which are quite fab. Anyway this bake is yummy and, as ever, leeks repay patience, so the longer you can let this crisp up and bake through, the better. If you don't have pine kernals to hand, hurl in some sweetcorn and you'll get away with it.


Potato and leek bake

3 medium sized leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
4 small to medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Tablespoon of fresh, chopped parsley
Tbsp pine kernals
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt
400 ml vegetable bouillon or stock
2 Tbsp olive oil

Sweet garlic broccoli

4 or 5 heads of purple sprouting broccoli
5 or 6 stalks of flat beans
1 clove garlic, mashed
100ml vegetable stock
Tbsp soy sauce
Tsp mirin or syrup
2 tsp Sesame oil


Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees Centrigrade. Pour a glass of wine. Switch on Radio 4. Switch off again if it's the Moral Maze. Otherwise, crack on. 

First of all get those leeks good and clean. A top tip here is to chop the straggly bits of the deep green tail off, then slice them down the middle, almost as far as the base, and then fan them under running water to get all the dirt out. Much easier. Then peel and slice the spuds.

This dish is all about layering, so get all the ingredients ready and prepared, and then use a little of the olive oil to line the bottom of a medium-sized baking dish.

Start with a sprinkling of the sliced leeks, then a layer of the thinly-sliced potatoes. On top of this sprinkle some of the parsley, garlic and, sparingly, the nutmeg and sea salt. Add a some of the pine kernals, and you're ready for the next layer. Again start with leeks, then add the other ingredients. Keep on and do 3 or 4 layers in a similar fashioning, seasoning in between, and if you can, finish with a potato layer.

Next, pour the bouillon or stock over the mixture, and leave it for a minute or so to soak through, then drizzle the remainder of the olive oil over the bake, before baking in the oven for around 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Now... for the broccoli. Simply mix the garlic, stock, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil and leave to one side. Make sure the stock is good and hot as it takes the edge off the garlic. Steam the beans and broccoli lightly, and then toss in the sauce. If you have them, sprinkle with some sesame seeds so it looks pretty.