Saturday, 30 June 2012

Mini nut burgers with courgette

More finger food - this time bite-sized nut burgers with a little courgette on top to make them look pretty. Plus some sesame seeds. The base for this burger is a nut roast recipe I've been using for at least 20 years.


4 tbsp fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, sage and marjoram out of the garden)
400 g mixed nuts
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
3 tsp marmite or other yeast extract
2 tsp agave syrup
3 tbsp vegan margarine
1 small onion
2 tbsp vegetable oil
I small courgette
Sesame seeds to garnish


Blend the nuts, herbs and breadcrumbs together until they make a fairly fine mix. Don't go all the way to milling them down to a flour though - it's nice to have a little bit of nut crunch in there still. If your mixer or blender is struggling, break the mix up into two batches and then mix them together in a mixing bowl. In the mixing bowl add the marmite, syrup and vegan margarine. As an alternative here you can use tomato puree if you want the thing to look bit more 'faux meat'. Finely chop the onion and then fry in the vegetable oil until softened and translucent. Mix the onion into the nut mix thoroughly.

Slice the courgette into rounds and then find yourself a cookie cutter with a diameter slightly larger than the courgette slices. Placing the cookie cutter on some baking paper, press the nut mixture into the centre of the cutter and press down firmly to create a round, mini-burger around 1-2 cm thick. Press down on the mixture as you pull the cookie cutter away and you should have a perfectly formed circle of yumminess. Now pop the courgette slice on top, brush with oil and repeat with more mixture to make your next burger. For my mini-burgers, which were about 6 cm in diameter, the mix above made 15 altogether.

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees centigrade, covered in foil, for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until well browned. Before serving, sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds to make them look pretty.

Rosemary and Garlic Polenta Triangles

Am in canapé mode this afternoon. I've always liked oven-roasted polenta. This time I've stirred in some rosemary and garlic (plus some leftover olives) to make a really great finger food for us to takeover to the neighbours later. Might even convince the kids to try it if it looks cute enough.


1 litre boiling water
1 tsbp vegetable bouillon powder or a vegetable stock cube
300g polenta flour
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4-5 green olives, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt


Bring the water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan and sprinkle in the bouillon powder and stir until it's mixed in. Next up, in goes the polenta flour. The trick with making your own polenta is to gradually add the flour, a little at a time, and keep stirring constantly so you don't get any clumpy lumpy bits that would make you think you'd chomped into a morsel of wallpaper paste. Keep on stirring and introducing the flour as the mixture thickens. After around ten minutes you should have all the flour introduced and the mixture is starting to thicken nicely. At this point add in the rosemary, garlic and olives and continue stirring for another ten minutes or so. The mixture is done once it's starting to pull away from the edge of the pan.

Now grease a good-sized square baking dish with some olive oil and spread the mixture out over the bottom until it's around 2-3 centimetres or an inch thick. Sprinkle some more fresh rosemary over the top, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and then leave in the fridge to set properly.

The polenta will be set in an hour or so. Remove from the fridge and gently turn the solid rectangle of polenta out onto a chopping board. Turn it over and then slice up into bite sized triangles. Brush with a little more olive oil if needed and then bake in the over at around 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Good to go.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Dried beancurd with aubergine and greens in satay sauce

Back on the blog - finally! I haven’t stopped cooking, just been a bit stuck for time. Anyway this one was so popular at home that Anne, the love of my life, insisted it go on the blog, not least so that I could remember how to make it again. The main protagonist in this one is the funky and exciting long brown sticks of dried beancurd which I’ve not used before but which worked out really well. Total winner.


Half pack dried bean curd (aka tofu skin!)
Half an aubergine, quartered and sliced
300g chinese or spring greens, sliced
Half an onion, sliced
Two tablespoons vegetable oil

And for the satay sauce:

3 cloves garlic
2 dried chillies
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup or 2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons water


First of all the dried beancurd has to be soaked for 20 minutes or so in warm water. While the strange brown sticks were softening, I made the satay sauce. First of all crush and chop the garlic and the chillies and fry them in a small saucepan very briefly (45 seconds) in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. This is long enough to release the aromatics but also ensures you don’t get that slightly manky garlic aftertaste. Worth the effort. Next add the syrup or sugar, the mirin, the soy sauce and finally the peanut butter. Stir well until it thickens, then take it off the heat and add the water until you’ve got a lovely smooth sauce. Set to one side.

Drip dry the softened beancurd well and then chop into strips. Add to a large wok or frying pan and fry with half the remaining vegetable oil. When it’s browned and crispy, set to one side. Next add the remaining vegetable oil and the other vegetables to the wok and stir fry until they start to brown (takes around 15 minutes) then bring the beancurd back into play, stir through in the wok, and add the satay sauce. Cook for a further minute or two and then serve over rice. Lovely.