Tuesday, 29 September 2009

SpringRolls with peanut dipping sauce

Springroll pastry is something I always have in my freezer.You can buy them in any oriental foodstore.Apart from springrolls I use them to make some quick samosas and for sweet rolls filled with bananas and chocolate.They are made from rice and have a neutral flavour ideal for whatever filling.
This particular filling was a very simple one from the end of the week vegetables I had on hand...
onions,garlic,fresh ginger,carrots and white cabbage.
As for all wok cooking prepare your vegetables first,finely chopped and place in separate bowls.
Have a bottle of sunflower oil at hand.
The same with the spices and soya sauces...have everything ready beside the wok.I mixed some tamari soya sauce with a pinch of 7 spices(or 5 spice mix)and a spoonful of honey.
Place your wok on your hottest plate with the largest flame.
When its reached smoking level add a tablespoon of oil.
First the onions,then the carrots and cabbage and lastly the garlic and ginger stirring constantly.
When the vegetables have browned slightly or seem a little dry add the soya,spice,honey mixture...but not too much ...the idea is to just add moisture to steam the vegetables but not drown them.
When the filling is cooked you can begin preparing the rolls...
Place one paper thin sheet in front of you .
Place a line of the filling about 3 quarters of the way up the sheet...see the 2nd photo above and hopefully all will be clear(mental note- how complicated it seems sometimes to describe something simple)
Wet the sides and bottom line of the pastry sheet with water.
Fold over the sides,covering the edges of the filling.
Then fold over the top half and roll....
Until it forms a roll(?Dios Mio this does seem harder than I thought!)

Now with all your beautiful rolls lined up you can happily begin to deep fry them until golden brown.Fry one or two at a time always letting the over lapping pastry side down first.Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the dipping sauce...

...which would have to be the easiest sauce ever.
Mix about 3 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter with one teaspoon of Thai yellow curry paste and some water,a little at a time until you get a nice pouring consistency.Be patient..if it looks like its separating its just the oil and water fighting sillily over territory...but they will come together(a metaphor for world peace perhaps?).Add a slash of soya sauce and there you have it.
As always feel free to play- the trick is the peanut and water gorgeous creamy mixture...you can flavour it with sesame oil,lime juice or peel,fresh ginger,garlic,lemongrass,curry powder,fresh chopped coriander..etc..etc...or what ever you wish

For filling choices the lists are all would you guess it ..endless.I only had my poor mans veggies in the fridge but you can fill it with bean sprouts,tofu..smoked or other,mushrooms,bak choy,pak choy,sesame seeds,spiced pumpkins,any yummy crunchy green vegetables or any combination that takes your fancy(with the exception of tomatoes which do not go with soy sauce...good luck and over and out!)

On a completely different note I,d like to add that my daugther is 16 months old today and walking,that the moon is full and shining like silver sunshine and that the swallows have chosen to depart flying back to Africa...On behave of everyone I,d like to thank the swallows for their glorious laughing and flight maneuvers and celebrating summer with us,for the moon for awaking the magic in people and to my daughter for existing and making my world special and love filled and new.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Fig,Plum and Apple Crumble

Crumbles are the ultimate wintry or autumnal comfort foods.
My neighbour has two huge fig trees which Anouk always makes a bee line for...One ladden with white figs..the other with deep purple figs...the fruit is covered individually with bags to stop the blackbirds eating them.I love the thought of fat gluttonous birds drunk on figs.
In Ireland figs are crazily expensive and totally gourmet...here they grow wild and in vast quantities...which being Irish and living abroad I have a mixture of smug satisfaction and of course guilt.
But what better way of dealing with guilt -make a delicious comforting dessert.

First I chopped up some figs,plums and apple and stewed in a pan until softened ...then sweetened with agave syrup to taste.
For the topping I mixed some 5 cereal flakes(or you could use oat flakes) with about a quarter of the amount of flour.A few sprinkles of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of vanilla sugar were called for. I binded the mixture with a few splashes of sunflower oil (you could use margarine or butter) and threw in some sunflower seeds.I sweetened it with agave syrup( you could use brown sugar or rice syrup).
In a greased ovenproof dish pore in the stewed fruit then top with the crumble mixture and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C until the top is browned(about 15 or 20 minutes).
Try different stewed fruit...like apples with raisins,or banana and mango,or banana and chocolate or a mixture of red berries.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Sweetcorn Cajun Fritters

These are little mouthfuls of sheer joy and good cold or hot straight from the pan...
For the batter...
85g flour
15g soya flour
20g garbanzo flour
5g baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
flat dessertspoon of organic bouillion powder
dessertspoon of cajun powder
1 small garlic clove crushed
1 teaspoon tumeric

Mix well and add 200ml cold water and beat well making sure theres no flour bubbles.

150g sweetcorn nibs
40g diced red pepper
75g chopped spring onion greens,n all

In a small saucepan...fill with sunflower oil to about a fifth of the way up.
Heat up oil and test to see if its ready by placing a small drop of batter inside...when it floats your ready to roll...
With dessertspoons of the batter mixture cook three at a time...about 1 minute or so on each side or until they are nice and golden brown.
Dry on kitchen paper.

P.S.please be careful with oil never go near it with water ....vague memories of burning a fryingpan when in college come flooding back to me...

If you don,t have bouillion powder don,t fret.... use more garlic,or perhaps chopped red chillies(if you dare),or fresh coriander leaves,or more cajun powder.
Cajun food is a mixture of French and African cuisine.Think deep south...think gumbo stews(I use fried tofu)....The powder can be bought or you can make your own...
Its a mixture of salt,chilli powder,black pepper,ground ginger,ground cumin,cardamon,brown sugar,dried oregano,dried thyme and lemon peel.
I served these with a salad of garden tomatoes,avocado and lettuce with drizzles of tarragon vinegar,coriander oil,habanero chilli sauce with salt and pepper.(maybe the chilli sauce drowned out the vinegar but I was playing ...so maybe a wine vinegar would do)

This recipe is very adaptable.
Try changing the cajun powder for some curry powder with extra cardamon.
Or change the vegetables...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Smoked Aubergine Soup

We had a Bar-b-q- at the weekend...and I had some left over potato and aubergine charred black from the fire.Instead of turning it into some smokey dips I opted for this soup due to the rainy weather outside...Ain,t nothing like a soup on a grey day.

Saute 2 onions finely diced in olive oil with a pinch of salt.
When the onions are soft add 3 small mushrooms..diced finely.
Add 1 small aubergine,2 radishes,half a cougette chopped finely.
Cook until the aubergine softens and add the charred aubergine (with the burnt skin removed and composted)and cover with a light stock.
Simmer for about ten minutes then blend up for a thick rich soup.
I added the cooked charred potato deskined and cubed up with some cooked green peas before serving for a different texture and that lovely green colour

Roast Parsnip and Quinoa Tortilla

Spanish omlettes or Torillas are one of the best inventions.This one was made from some cooked quinoa I had hanging around in the frigde with some roasted parsnips.
For perfect tortillas you need...
A small non stick frying pan(I say small because its easier or faster to cook the filling)
A well seasoned tasty filling.
A filling thats dry or not too moist.

I calculate the filling to almost fill(about three quaters of the way up) the frying pan.
I used a small 6 inch pan.

First beat four eggs and set aside.
Heat the frying pan until very hot.
Add olive oil and coat the sides well.
Beat eggs one more time and add to the pan.
Imediately add the filling.
Lower the flame to minimum.
Top with a lid.
Check after a minute or so ,if your flame can,t go very low..take it off the heat still covered.
Loosen the sides of the omlette and if very liquidy and let some of the egg mixture trickle down the sides.
You can move the filling to the sides gently every now and then.
Repeat processes of putting a lid on,taking it off for about 15 minutes...yes its a slow process...the idea is for the centre to cook well until it,s firm enough to turn over but that it doesn,t dry out.
When it seems quite firm(make sure theres no runny egg mixture left) put a plate on top and using a tea towel flip the frying pan over.
Add a wee bit more oil to the pan and return the Torilla to the pan (un cooked side facing downwards)still on a low flame for about 3 minutes or until cooked thru.

Try the following fillings...
Classic cooked potatoes with fried onions.
Cooked artichokes(not canned)with black olives and onions.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Borlotti Bean Stew

We had a handfull of dried beans from the garden just enough for dinner for two.
I had never tried Borlotti beans before and now I see the attraction...they were lovely and plump with a nice mealy texture.
I made a classic stew of sauted onions,garlic,aubergines,green and red peppers from the neighbours with a wee bit of celery and tomatoes...a slash of wine...reduced to perfection and added the cooked beans.
Fresh parsley and basil,some boullion base were added to mingle with the veggies and a happy stew was born.I,m sure this would taste better if I cooked the beans slowly in the stew but I wanted to try them on there own first.Instead ,we ate this the following day to allow the beans soak up the flavour of the stew...and enjoyed them with some golden roasted potatoes.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Summer Tomato Broth

This year we planted 3 types of tomatoes.."de colgar"(for hanging up)...for making Pan con Tomate and they keep until february hanging up in the kitchen(more true treasure).

To make Pan con Tomate you need to toast some bread.Rub them with garlic.Cut a tomate de colgar(or a well flavoured ripe soft tomato) in half and rub it into the bread... all you,ll have left is the skin.Drizzle some good quality olive oil on top and a sprinkle of salt ...and there you have it... a classic Catalan recipe.The concept is simple..good ingredients and you can,t go wrong.Serve this bread with Grilled Asparagus,Tortilla EspaƱol,Sauted wild mushrooms or whatever takes your fancy.

The second type of tomato was gordos de Argentina..fat argentian tomates which are the fat,firm full variety..great for salads with olive oil and fresh basil and black pepper.

The last type was monserrat which are large with big folds like a pin cushion... emptyish inside but sweet... great for this summer soup... or for stuffing.

Also there were a few unidentified tomates which grew alone thanks to the compost...one or two cherry tomates and plum tomates and a few nameless bless them.

Forgive my nerdish account of varieties but looking back its nice to see what you planted every year and why.Now on to this soup it had the simplist ingredients because the veggies were so good I wanted to celebrate them.
First saute some finely chopped onion (1medium sized)
Next chop a fresh fat garlic clove and cook until just soft and not browned
Add a half or quarter of diced red pepper...also cooked until soft
And lastly 2 bowlfuls of tomatoes diced up ,skins and all...a mixture of the lovely selection above...deliciously sweet..no added sugar needed.
Add a slash or two of water or light stock...enough to give a nice broth like consistency.
The tomatoes should be cooked but still hold their shape.
Add a hand full of tiny cooked pasta of choice.
Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Top with fresh basil and some grated parmesan.
Perfect homage to naturally sweet summer vegetables.

note...This soup only works with good flavoured tomatoes...if they dont have much flavour theres no point in trying this recipe...however if you get your hands on some homegrowns celebrate them with this soup.

Banana Icecream.

This is so creamy...so rich and yummy...that you,ll be surprised of the ingredients...
Just bananas and nothing more.
Chop up a banana in small pieces, place on a tray and pop into the freezer and freeze.
Take out and using a blender or food processor until you get a creamy icecream texture(the smaller the frozen pieces the easier it is to make)
Honest Simple Healthy Icecream...from Camila at http://mybitesoflife.blogspot.com/...
And my baby loves it...when she doesnt eat bananas she,ll wolf this down...thank you Cami!