Runner bean and pesto fritters (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Runner bean fritters. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope you have had a good few days. I can hardly believe that it is September already! We have had a fine few days of weather this last week, and the garden dried out enough to get gardening again. It felt good to be outside once again.

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Runner beans 2020. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was about to tackle a glut of runner beans. It has been perfect conditions for a bumper harvest this summer: plenty of rain intermixed with sunshine and warmth. The bean vines are still looking very lush and healthy, and there has been a second flush of flowers which means, if the weather holds, I should be picking beans for a while longer.

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Fresh basil pesto. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Apart from enjoying runner beans as an accompaniment to meals, so far I have a couple of bags in the freezer for eating later on in the year. I seldom do anything else, although leftover cold beans make a great salad ingredient – click here for a delicious runner bean salad I posted last year. This week’s recipe gives runner beans a leading role. I hope you enjoy the fritters, they are crisp and delicious, and for a little extra effort, I would suggest making your own pesto. I am very proud of my basil plant. It is thriving in the greenhouse; the leaves have a strong, peppery bite. The quantity below will make enough for this recipe. If you double or triple it you can freeze the remainder in small batches. It will also keep for a couple of weeks sealed tight in a jar in the fridge.

Vegan pesto: put a peeled garlic clove in a small food processor with 15g basil leaves, 60g unsalted nuts such as pistachio, pine nuts or almonds (I used a combination of all 3), a pinch of salt, 50ml extra virgin olive oil and 30g grated hard vegan cheese. Blitz for a few seconds until smooth, and that’s it. Pesto perfecto! This combination makes a thick pesto which is perfect for this recipe, but add extra oil to taste for a looser pasta sauce.

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Preparing and cooking runner beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I have found that strips of bean work well in this recipe. The batter has a larger surface area to cling on to and cooks really crisply. Peel the sides of the beans using a vegetable peeler and remove the stalk end. If you have a bean slicer, push them through that, otherwise, slice them as thinly as you can. Steam them over simmering water for 5 minutes, then cool in cold water and drain well. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Now, let’s get on with the recipe.

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Fritters and pesto mayo. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 8

Ingredients

  • 50g polenta
  • 75g gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds, finely ground (I use a coffee grinder)
  • 3 tbsp pesto sauce – see recipe above
  • 120ml dairy-free milk
  • 75ml aqua fava (bean or chickpea canning water)
  • 225g cooked runner beans
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Vegan mayonnaise
  1. Put the polenta, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Mix together and make a well in the centre. 
  2. Mix the flax seeds with 3 tbsp cold water and leave to stand for about 5 minutes until thickened. Pour into the well.
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    Preparing fritter batter and flax egg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Add the pesto sauce and milk and whisk together to make a smooth batter.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the aqua fava to a stiff foam and then gently fold into the batter. Finally, carefully stir in the beans, making sure they are well covered. Adding_homemade_pesto_and_whisked_aqua_fava_to_fritter_batter
    Folding_in_whisked_aqua_fava_and_runner_beans_into_fritter_batter
    Adding pesto, whisked aqua fava and the beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    5. Pour sufficient oil into a large deep frying pan or wok to a depth of about 3cm and heat to 180ÂşC. Fry bundles of beans in batter in batches of 3 or 4, turning in the oil, for 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden. You should be able to make 8 fritters with this quantity. Drain well on kitchen paper and keep warm until ready to serve.

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    Cooking the fritters. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    6. To serve, mix 1 part pesto to 2 parts vegan mayonnaise and serve with the fritters accompanied with fresh tomatoes. Scatter with fresh basil and runner bean flowers, if liked.

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    Fritters with homegrown tomatoes, fresh basil and homemade pesto mayo. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    Use this batter with ribbons of courgette or carrot instead – lightly steam them first. Leave out the pesto if you prefer, or simply add grated vegan cheese to the batter and some chopped chives, shredded leek or spring onion.

    Until next time, take care and best wishes 🙂

Lemon and cucumber cake (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Lemon and cucumber cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. I hope you are well. I was having a look at the stats on my site last week and I noticed that the most frequently viewed recipe on my blog over the past 4 weeks has been a recipe I posted 3 years ago for a lemon-soaked cucumber cake. I am assuming that lots of readers have as many cucumbers as I do and are looking for different ways to use them up!

Time for a recipe review. Same combination of flavours, but this time an iced cake and a simple cake batter.

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Sliced and ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have had a bumper crop of cucumbers this year, from just 2 plants. I only had a couple of seeds left in a packet from the year before and, once sown, both have thrived. Mini Munch is a great variety to grow. The cucumbers are small, sweet and delicously refreshing and juicy. They ripen in next to no time once the vines get established.

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Greenhouse Mini Munch cucumbers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. This is a very easy to make cake, no special equipment necessary. I do advise you to add either the xanthan gum or arrowroot as this really does hold the ingredients together to give a firmer texture, but if you decide not to, you’ll still have a delicious cake, it will just be crumbly.

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Home-grown cucumber harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes 1 x 18cm cake

Ingredients

  • 90g dairy-free margarine
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 100g plain dairy-free yogurt (I used coconut)
  • 150g gluten-free self-raising flour blend (I use Doves Farm)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum or 10g ground arrowroot
  • 125g grated cucumber
  • Finely grated rind and juice 1 lemon
  • 125g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Grease and line an 18cm square tin. Put the margarine and sugar in a bowl and whisk until creamy and well blended. Stir in the yogurt.

2. Add the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and icing sugar, and mix together until well combined.

3. Pile into the tin, smooth the top and stand the tin on a baking tray. Bake for about 45 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Lemon and cucumber cake preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. To ice, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix in 3-4 tsp lemon juice to make a smooth, thick icing. Spread all over the top of the cake and allow it to run down the sides. Leave to set for about 30 minutes before decorating.

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Baked cake ready for icing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Drizzling fresh lemon icing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I decorated my cake with cucumber flowers (male ones – no little fruit attached), orange-scented geranium leaves and a few strips of blanched lemon rind.

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Decoration of cucumber flowers, orange scented geranium leaves and lemon rind. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I’m off to sort out my glut of runner beans! Until next time, my best wishes to you 🙂

Grow your own salad

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May salad of homegrown herbs, flowers and leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope the sun has been shining on you these past few days. It has been glorious here, although we did have some very unseasonal gale-force winds whipping up a storm last weekend. Luckily, no serious damage done.

My post this week is more of a “show and tell” rather than a recipe or garden feature. I’ve never been one for growing much in the way of salad leaves, but this year, with more time on my hands in early spring, I decided to try my hand. With vegetable seeds in high demand, I was limited in choice, but  2 of my favourites were obtainable and that’s how I ended up sowing pea shoots and rocket.

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Easy to grow, pea shoots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Pea shoots are a crop that you can grow all year round indoors. You just need a container and some compost or soil, and watering can on stand by. I planted up a couple of pots and have had them in the conservatory since the end of April. The shoots don’t like direct sunlight, just bright light and warmth. After 3 ½ weeks they are ready to harvest. The seed packet says that you might get a second harvest so I have cut the first few stems just above a pair of leaves about 3cm from the bottom of the stalk, and now I will wait and see if they shoot up again.

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Homegrown rocket. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Rocket is a leaf for out-of-doors growing according to the pack, but I have grown the leaves on a windowsill indoors before. I did have the ground space outside but I put my seeds in pots because I was convinced the young seedlings would get eaten by the big fat pigeons that strut around the back garden hoovering up the leftovers from the bird feeders. The pots are easier to protect and keep out of greedy beaks.

I planted a few pots with seeds at the same time as the pea shoots. The seeds are so tiny,  it is impossible to sow them thinly. After 2 weeks or so, they were ready to be thinned out. I was able to replant some of the bigger seedlings but the tinniest ones made excellent peppery sprinkles on a salad. By the way, these are the pretty heart-shaped leaves around the edge of the plate above.

Rocket plants grow in clusters of leaves, so when you harvest, snip leaves sparingly from each plant so that the rest of the plant can regenerate.

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Seasonal salad herbs and flowers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Around the garden at this time, I found other herbs and flowers to add to my salad plate. Choose young sorrel leaves to eat raw as they are soft in texture and have less of an astringent taste. Salad burnet is one of my favourite herbs. I have had a pot growing in the garden for several years. Although it looks very delicate with it’s soft, bright, serrated-edged leaves, it is a hardy herb and keeps going from year to year without much looking after. The leaves have a mild, fresh cucumber-like flavour.

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Sweet berry vinegar and thyme dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A simple combination of salad ingredients requires just the simplest of accompaniments. A while ago I posted on how to make your own flavoured vinegars. The link to the basic recipe can be found by clicking here . At the bottom of the recipe you will find ideas for other flavourings including berries. The vinegar above was made last year using some of the wild strawberries that grow around the garden and I also added a few sprigs of fresh thyme. A simple salad dressing, no oil nor added sugar required.

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Homegrown salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I will probably be back in the garden next time, until then, take care and enjoy the fine weather.

No-egg omelette with asparagus (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Egg-free omelette with roast asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. A simple recipe for you this week. Perfect for the time of year. It makes a lovely lunch or light supper, and more than anything else, it gives me the opportunity to show you how you really can make an omelette without breaking a single egg 🙂

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Egg-less omelette ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My chosen filling for the month of May would always be fresh asparagus. This magnificent vegetable has been available here, home-grown in the UK, for about 3 weeks now. And very delicious it is too. I roasted a few stems to eat with my omelette and then let the rest go cold to eat with a salad.

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British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To roast asparagus (I find thicker stems cook better this way), trim off the woody ends and lay out, spaced apart on a large lined baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes at 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 until tender. Drain and serve hot or cold.

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Preparing and roasting asparagus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. I add chopped fresh herbs to the omelette mixture for colour and flavour. I have tried adding shredded leek and spring onion but found that they added water and changed the texture. A few tablespoons of chopped herbs is fine but anything more and the mixture may become more pancake-like. The aqua fava gives added lightness to the mixture which makes it less like a pancake batter. Leave this out if your prefer. By the way, if you’re not gluten-free, plain white flour can replace the tapioca flour.

Makes 4 small omelettes or 2 medium-sized

Ingredients

  • 75ml chickpea or bean water (aqua fava)
  • 50g tapioca flour
  • 50g gram (chickpea) flour
  • 3g gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)
  • 2 tbsp each freshly chopped parsley and chives
  • Sunflower oil for cooking
  1. Pour the chickpea water into a bowl and whisk for 2-3 minutes until thick and foamy.
  2. Sieve the flours, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Make a well in the centre and gradually blend in the milk to make a smooth batter.
  3. Scrape the whisked foam on top and add the herbs. Gently fold everything together until well blended.
  4. Brush a small crepe or frying pan (approx. 15cm base) with a little oil and heat until hot. Reduce the heat to low and pour in ÂĽ of the batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over a medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes until bubbles form on top and the mixture is almost set. The omelette should be lightly golden underneath.
  5. Turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Turn onto baking parchment and cover with foil whilst preparing the other omelettes. Best served warm with your favourite filling.

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    How to make an egg-less omelette. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

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    A perfect May-time lunch. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    I hope you have a good few days ahead. Enjoy the fine weather if you have it and above all else, keep safe.

     

 

Springtime isolation and a spot of wild garlic foraging

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A peaceful place for wild garlic foraging, River Lednock, Perthshire. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. What a weird and surreal spring this is turning out to be. In many ways life goes on as usual: the spring flowers are blossoming; the birds are chirping and calling to each other; the days are drawing out, and the weather is brightening up. Yet, we humans are having to behave very differently.

I hope you are all getting along ok. It seems we’re affected by the spread of the virus throughout the world, and we’re all having to do our bit to keep it at bay. In the UK, we have been asked to keep our distance from each other, to stay at home as much as possible, and to only go out for exercise and essential shopping. At the weekend, I was able to find a quiet spot and combine a spot of foraging along with a walk along a nearby riverbank and woodland.

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River bank lush with wild garlic. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The air was warm and heavy with the scent of the garlic leaves. It was a joy to be out of doors and away from the troubles of the world, hearing only the water bubbling and the birds singing. I picked a few leaves here and there from the river bank. The garlic seems to be very abundant this year.

If you are able to go foraging, always forage responsibly by taking one or two leaves from a plant rather than stripping a whole one bare. And, wash the leaves thoroughly before cooking.

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Freshly picked and washed my harvest of wild garlic leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back at home, I used some of the leaves to make a version of  my favourite mash recipe using seasoned 500g mashed potato, 50g chopped wild garlic leaves and 50ml olive oil. I spread this on top of a creamy vegetable sauce and drizzled with more olive oil before baking.

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Wild garlic and olive oil mash. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The next day, I cooked up more leaves with spring greens and leeks – deliciously tasty with pasta or over rice. A version of this recipe can be found here.

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Wild garlic, leeks and spring greens. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This time I used 100g shredded cabbage with 75g each wild garlic and leek. Season and stir fry in 20ml olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then lower the heat, put the lid on and cook gently for about 10 minutes until wilted down. Simple but delicious.

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Wild garlic and spring greens. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I wish you well over the next few days. Until next time, keep safe, and enjoy spring as best you can 🙂

Gujerati-style spiced vegetable cake

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Spiced vegetable cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. It feels like a while since I posted a recipe. To be honest, I have been busy with work projects and haven’t had so much time to set aside for my blog. But I about to  rectify that now with this week’s recipe, inspired by a Gujerati dish called “Handvo”. This is a savoury cake made with spices, grated vegetables and a flour made from rice and lentil or dahl. It reminds me of a savoury carrot cake.

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Lightly spiced and full of flavour. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The cake is best eaten hot with a salad and some fruity chutney. I have eaten it cold, at room temperature, and it was still very tasty but the texture was a little drier. Something different for a picnic or packed lunch perhaps? You need to start the recipe the day before baking because you need to soak the flour and yogurt mixture overnight. After that, it’s all pretty straightforward.

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Vegetables and flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The vegetable ingredients can be changed to suit personal preference. Carrots and ordinary potato work instead of sweet potato; chard or spring greens would make a good alternative to spinach; use pea instead of sweetcorn and leek instead of spring onion. The spices I use give a mellow flavour, so you may want experiment with others if you prefer something more robust. For a shortcut, you could replace the lot with a general purpose curry powder.

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A slice of savoury cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 115g gram flour
  • 115g white rice flour
  • 150g plant-based yogurt (I used coconut)
  • 115g grated raw sweet potato
  • 75g cooked sweetcorn kernels
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 50g raw spinach, chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ÂĽ tsp asafoetida
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp each cumin and black onion seeds
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  1. Sieve the flours into a bowl and mix in the yogurt along with 100ml luke warm water until well blended and the consistency of thick batter. Cover and leave in a cool room temperature for about 12 hours.

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    Soaking the flours in yogurt and water. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 240°C, 220°C fan oven, gas 9. Grease and line a 20cm spring-clip or loose-based cake tin.
  3. Add the vegetables, coriander, chilli, asafoetida, garlic, salt and sugar to the soaked cake batter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat the oil and fry the spice seeds gently until starting to pop then add to the cake mixture and mix well.
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6, and cook for a further 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve hot or cold with more coriander and salad.

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    Making and baking the cake batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    I hope you enjoy the recipe. Have a good few days. It’s beginning to feel a little more spring-like here, but I expect I’ve put a damper on things now I’ve said that! See you again soon 🙂

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    A savoury cake with a texture a bit like carrot cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Indian-style rice and peas (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Indian-style rice and peas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Welcome to my first recipe post of the year. I hope you’ve all had good Christmas and New Year celebrations. It has seemed like a good long holiday this year. Not only have I had plenty of time to recharge my batteries, but the longer holiday gave me the opportunity to spend time in the kitchen experimenting with different ingredients.

I have noticed that many of the blogs I follow have started the year with spicy offerings. Something about this time of the year usually gets me delving into the spice cupboard too, in search of different flavours to liven up my repertoire of recipes.

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Tray of spices and flavourings for basmati rice and chana dal. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is based around 2 basic and ordinary ingredients: rice and dried peas. But cooking with some spices, onion and other flavours, they can be transformed into something quite sensational.

The combination of spices I have used in this dish are more fragrant and comforting than spicy. You may want to add something with heat to give it more of a kick if you prefer e.g cayenne pepper or dried red chilli. To mellow the flavour, toast the whole spices first in a dry frying pan, just for a couple of minutes, and then cool and grind them up before using. If you don’t have the time to make your own spice mix, use 2-3 tsp curry powder or garam masala.

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Preparing the spice mix. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The combination of spiced chana dal (yellow-split peas) and fragrant basmati rice makes this a very tasty accompaniment to serve with a vegetable curry sauce, or you can sprinkle it with roasted cashew nuts or almonds to make a deliciously comforting meal. It freezes well too, so is worth making up as a batch-bake and then portioning up for the freezer, ready to serve at a later date. The recipe takes a bit of time to organise but being able to make it for the freezer is a good incentive to have a go.

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Ready to serve, Indian-style rice and peas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The dish is made up of 2 layers of basmati rice, top and bottom, with an onion, garlic and ginger chana dal layer in the middle, enriched with coconut yogurt. To finish the dish, the spice mix is sprinkled on top along with lemon juice, coconut milk, green chilli and butter (or coconut oil or dairy-free margarine).

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Rice and pea flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once the dish is baked, leave it to stand for a short while, then stir it up before serving so that all the wonderful flavours mingle together.

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All mixed up and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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A spoonful of rice and peas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins.

Serves: 3 to 4 as a main dish, or 4 to 6 as an accompaniment

Ingredients

  • 100g chana dal (yellow split peas)
  • 350g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves. peeled and finely chopped
  • 25g root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
  • 5 tbsp dairy-free coconut yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 40g butter or ghee if you eat it, or use coconut oil or dairy-free margarine instead
  • Juice 1 small lemon
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 or 2 large mild green chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • ÂĽ tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • Seeds of 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • Fresh coriander and cashew nuts to serve
  1. Rinse the chana dal in cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 45 minutes. Then drain, rinse and place in a saucepan. Cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and cook in simmering water for 25 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain well.
  2. Rinse the rice in cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drain and rinse the rice and then add to the water. Bring back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes only. Drain, rinse and leave to one side.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger with the bay leaves for 5 minutes over a medium heat until lightly golden. Add the yogurt 1 tbsp at a time, stirring the mixture in between additions, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the salt and cooked chana dal. Leave aside. Discard bay leaves if preferred.

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    Preparing the chana dal and onion layer. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Spoon half the rice into an ovenproof dish and spread to form an even layer. Top with the oniony chana dal mixture and then the remaining rice. Pat down gently.
  5. Dot the top with butter, ghee, coconut oil or margarine, and drizzle with lemon juice and coconut milk. Sprinkle with sliced chilli to taste. Mix the spices together and sprinkle over the top of the rice. Cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil.

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    Layering the rice and peas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. Stand the dish on a baking tray and cook for 45-50 minutes until piping hot. Leave the covering in place and allow to stand for 10 minutes before removing the foil and gently mixing everything together. Serve with fresh coriander and cashew nuts.

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    Out of the oven and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Sweet potato steaks with sweetcorn salsa (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Steaks, barbecue dressing and salsa. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Now that there’s a bit of a nip in the air and the daylight hours are limited, I feel the need for some comfort food. Very soon “bewitching” date in the calendar will be upon us, and the colours and flavours of my recipe this week make it a perfect dish to serve up on All Hallows Eve.

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Salsa-sprinkled sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There is a little heat in my recipe coming from chilli oil to cook the steaks and sweetcorn; green chilli in the salsa, and some sweet chilli sauce in the dressing. I’m a chilli wimp so the flavours are relatively mild,  you can add more to bump up the intensity if you prefer. I make my own chilli oil by adding Mexican chipotle seasoning to sunflower oil, and brush it over the steaks and sweetcorn just before cooking. Use plain oil if preferred.

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Home-made chilli oil for brushing over sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The salsa salad is consists of fresh sweetcorn flavoured with green chilli (use red for more heat), some spring onions for sharpness. and for nuttiness, toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. To finish, I add white balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness. You can experiment with the balance of flavours to suit your taste-buds.


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Sweetcorn salsa basics. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. I hope you enjoy it, and have a Happy Hallowe’en 🙂

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 900g medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • Chilli oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa:

  • 4 sweetcorn cobs, hole or quartered
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 mild green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp. Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chilli flakes to sprinkle
  1. Leaving the sweet potatoes unpeeled, cut them into  ½cm thick slices. Bring a large shallow pan of water to a gentle boil and cook the slices for 3-4 minutes in simmering water to soften them but not cook them completely. Drain well, pat dry with kitchen paper and leave them to air dry on a wire rack.

    Sliced_sweet_potato_softening_in_simmering_water_and_drying_on_a_wire_rack
    Preparing sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. When ready to cook, heat a large griddle pan until hot. Brush the slices with chilli oil and season on both sides, then cook the slices a few at a time, for 3-4 minutes on each side, pressing them on to the griddle, until lightly charred. Drain, cover and keep warm until you have cooked all the slices.
  3. For the sweetcorn salsa, cook the cobs in boiling unsalted water (salt can toughen the kernels) for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain well.
  4. Preheat the grill to a hot setting. Arrange the sweetcorn on  the grill rack and brush with chilli oil. Cook under the grill for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and lightly blistered. Drain well and leave to cool.

    Boiling_and_grilling_sweetcorn_ready_for_salsa
    Sweetcorn preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Strip the sweetcorn kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and mix with the remaining salsa ingredients. Cover and chill until required.

    Slicing_off_cooked_sweetcorn_kernels_from_the_cobs
    Stripping kernels from the cobs. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together and place in a dipping bowl. Arrange the sweet potato steaks on a warm platter and serve with the salsa salad and the dressing. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if liked.

    Close-up_of_griddled_sweet_potato_steaks_with_sweetcorn_salsa
    Up close on sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Cucumber and quinoa tabbouleh (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Gluten-free tabbouleh. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve had a great crop of home-grown cucumbers this year, and have been enjoying them since July. I’ve been growing 2 varieties in the greenhouse, a small green one called Mini Munch, and a pale yellow, more rounded variety, called Crystal Apple. The Mini Munch have almost finished now, but there are still a few more Crystal Apple come.

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Mini Munch and Crystal Apple cucumbers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

So to celebrate my cucumber-filled summer, this week’s recipe is my very simple, gluten-free version of the classic Middle Eastern salad, tabbouleh, and for good measure, to go with it, my favourite accompaniment, a super-speedy hummus recipe. You can add any combination of soft-leaved herbs to flavour your grains. The herb patch was looking a bit shabby at the weekend and I needed to pick off a few stalks of mint and chives to help rejuvenate the plants again. I also added some of the delicate zig-zag-edged herb salad burnet which has it’s own mild cucumber flavour, but parsley and coriander make good substitutes if you prefer.

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Salad Burnet close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are no set rules to this recipe. It is very simple. I cheat and use a ready-cooked pack of red and white quinoa grains. Very convenient and a perfect quantity for a couple of hearty portions. If you like, add tomato for extra colour and moisture to the salad, and spring onions will add a tasty, oniony bite. I hope you enjoy the fresh flavours.

Mini_Munch_cucumbers_mint_leaves, fresh_chives_and_sprigs_of_salad_burnet_on_a_marble_chopping_board
Home-grown cucumber, mint chives and salad burnet. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

Tabbouleh

  • 250g cucumber, washed
  • 250g cooked quinoa
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 20g chives, chopped
  • 7g mint leaves, chopped
  • A handful of salad burnet leaves (parsley or coriander)
  • Lemon wedges and extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Male cucumber flowers to garnish

Hummus (serves 3-4)

  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 40g tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika to dust
  1. For the tabbouleh, cut the cucumber into small pieces. Put the quinoa in a bowl and mix in the cucumber, herbs and salt. Cover and chill for an hour to allow the flavours to mingle. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

    Cooked_quinoa_alongside_the_other_ingredients_for_tabbouleh_salad
    Making gluten-free tabbouleh. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. For the hummus, open the can of chickpeas and drain the canning liquid into a jug. Pop the chickpeas in a blender or food processor along with the other ingredients and 3 tbsp. of the reserved liquid. Blitz for a few seconds until smooth. I like my hummus to have the consistency of thick porridge, but if you prefer something softer, just add a bit more canning liquid. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Don’t forget to keep the rest of the canning liquid for using as an egg white substitute – it freezes very well.

    Blending_the_ingredients_to_make_hummus
    Making hummus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Serve the tabbouleh decorated with cucumber flowers; dress with a squeeze of fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil to taste, and accompany with toasted seeds, home-made hummus (dusted with paprika if liked)  and warm, gluten-free, toasted pitta breads. Perfect 🙂

    Overhead_view_of_home-made_cucumber_and_quinoa_salad
    A fresh and healthy salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    Cucumber_and_quinoa_tabbouleh_served_on_warm_gluten-free_pitta_bread_with_hummus
    Ready to eat, quinoa tabbouleh with toasted seeds, home-made hummus and a squeeze of lemon. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spring vegetable pancake (Gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spring vegetable pancake with new season asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you’ve read my previous posts at this time of the year, you’ll know that spring is my favourite season. Not just because I love the flowers and the feeling that everything is coming to life, but my favourite vegetable is available right now for a very short period of time, British asparagus.

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Fresh British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I rarely do very much with asparagus. I like to savour the tender green stems just as they are. Either a quick flash in a hot frying pan or a blast in a hot oven, to give them a subtle smokiness, and that’s all the extra flavour I need.

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Fresh asparagus in a hot pan. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s recipe is based on a Japanese dish called Okonomiyaki which caught my eye recently. Originally made with wheat flour and eggs, my version of the pancake is gluten-free and egg-free. There’s a bit of vegetable preparation, but once that’s out of the way, everything else is very straightforward. The pancake makes a lovely lunch or light supper, and is the perfect base for a topping of freshly cooked asparagus.

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Spring-vegetables for pancake making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you don’t want the hassle of a cooked topping, try sliced avocado and baby spinach or a pile of fresh pea shoots and wild rocket for a salad topping instead. If you have the inclination and the extra ingredients, I recommend making the barbecue dressing that accompanies the pancake. Utterly delicious, simple to make, and far tastier than any barbecue sauce I’ve ever been able to buy. A great finishing touch to any grilled or barbecued food.

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Home-made barbecue dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. flax seeds
  • 45g white rice flour
  • 50g dry white free-from breadcrumbs
  • 75ml white miso or vegetable stock
  • 75g soft-leaved cabbage, such as Sweet-heart or Hispi, shredded
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 150g thin fresh asparagus stems, trimmed
  • Vegan mayonnaise to serve

For the barbecue dressing:

  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gluten-free light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  1. Put the flax seeds in a coffee grinder or small food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 6 tbsp. cold water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes by which time the mixture will thicken.
  2. Sift the rice flour on top and mix together with the stock to make a smooth batter.

    Flax_seeds_in_coffee_grinder_and_mixing_to_make_vegan_pancake_batter
    Making the pancake batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Add the cabbage, spring onion and breadcrumbs and mix everything together to make a thick, stiff batter – add a little water if the mixture is very dry, but this is not a pourable batter, it is more like a firm cake mixture.
  4. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan with a lid and add half the batter. Press the mixture to form a thick round approx. 16cm diameter. Fry over a medium heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Carefully flip over, and cook on the other side, covered with the lid, for another 5 minutes. Drain and keep warm, whilst you cook the remaining mixture in the same way.

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    Cooking spring vegetable pancake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Once the pancakes are cooked, heat the remaining oil in the frying pan until hot and quickly cook the asparagus, turning, for 3-4 minutes until just wilted. Drain and keep warm.
  6. To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Slip the pancakes on to warm serving plates and drizzle with mayonnaise and the barbecue dressing. Top with asparagus and serve immediately.

    Close-up_of_spring_vegetable_pancake_with_asparagus_on_top
    Asparagus-topped spring vegetable pancake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    Until next week, I’ll leave you with another image of my favourite vegetable. Have a good week and I look forward to seeing you next time 🙂

    Close-up_of_British_aspagis_in_a_vas
    Early May British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins