Baked Spiced Squash and Potato Samosa, Curry For Change Campaign and Wandsworth Radio

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I love it when friends bring edible gifts, especially ones they have been handmade or grown. The other day I was given this gorgeous blue looking squash that my pal had grown in her vegetable patch in the Cotswolds. We are not too sure what it is exactly but our guess is pointing us towards pumpkin invincible (we liked the name anyway). It looked beautiful, so I let it sit around in the kitchen for over a week for us all to admire. Part of me wanted to spray it silver or gold and have it sitting by the fireplace over the christmas season, but then again I knew it would be delicious as a lot of care and love had gone into growing it, it would be a shame not to eat it such a gorgeous gift.

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I broke into it yesterday – it definitely won top prize on ‘hardest squash to break into’. It’s flesh was bright orange with seeds slightly puffier than your regular pumpkins. I removed the skin from a quarter of it and then diced it up small. The rest I covered and placed in the fridge to use on another occasion.

A lovely idea would be to incorporate the squash into some gnocchi itself – you could use my recipe for gnocchi here or incorporate it with some store bought gnocchi here.

My plan was to use the filling for some spiced baked squash and potato samosas. I was going on to Wandsworth radio later in the day to talk to presenter, Emma Gordon aka Mrs Stylist, about the charity ‘Find Your Feet’ and their ‘Curry For Change’ campaign and hosting your own supper parties to help the charity. In addition the plan was to talk about alternative christmas snacks, so thought the samosas and my Indian tomato chutney were perfect for the occasion. You can hear the interview here if you fancy hearing me on the airwaves.

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For those keen to get involved in the campaign they are really having a push next week (21st November). The charity is all about helping those who live in rural communities in northern India, Nepal, Malawi and Zimbabwe to help them ‘find their feet’ – rather than simply giving handouts, through acquiring training and skills that can break the cycle of poverty by setting up their own business to allow them to feed themselves and their families. The idea is that we host supper parties. Natco and Kingfisher beer sponsor the whole campaign and will send those who sign up here a spice pack, which invariable includes lentils and other exciting goodies. Kingfisher will also send a crate of beer to  drink at the event. You ask diners to pay what they would ordinarily spend on a curry take out and the money then goes to ‘Find Your Feet’. Natco then double the amount you raise.  It’s a simple idea that is a win win for all involved. You don’t need to be a food blogger to take part. Everyone young and old can give it a whirl – even my mother has expressed an interest to take part. The curry for change website also has lots of inspiring recipes to help you plan your curry evening. You may even see one of two of mine listed on their site.

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Back to the spiced squash samosas.

The good thing about these snacks is that they can be prepared and then frozen, pre cooking, and then when you are ready to bake them you simply place them in the oven for 20 minutes from frozen. So simple. I often like to prepare a chutney to go along with a street food snacks, such as samosas. You can see my recipe for Indian spiced tomato chutney here. It is very quick to prepare and stores in the fridge for a couple of days.

Folding the samosas is easier than you think. Place the filling in the bottom right hand corner and then fold the pastry over so that a triangle forms. Then you fold the pastry up along the line before folding over to the left hand side, continuing with the triangle theme. Just keep in mind that you need to keep folding in alternative triangles and using water or ghee to stick the sides together. There are more photos showing how it is done on my post about ‘beetroot, feta and cumin samosas’ – see here. I like to sprinkle the samosas with nigella seeds, also known as black onion seeds, equally you could sprinkle sesame seeds or even chilli flakes.

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 Baked Spiced Squash and Potato 

Makes 20

700g squash/pumpkin of your choice, cut into small cubes

1 large potato (250g), cut into small cubes

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp nigella seeds

pinch of asafoetida/hing

1 onion, finely chopped

1 birds eye green chilli, finely sliced

1 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

100g frozen peas

2 packets of Jus Filo Sheets 270g each

2 tbsp melted ghee

  1. First place the cubed squash and potatoes in a pan with boiling water and let them soften, which will take around 10 minutes. If they are still a little hard, allow them to cook for a little longer. Strain and place to one side.
  2. In a separate wide pan add the oil and then add the mustard, cumin and nigella seeds followed by the asafoetida. Allow them to move around the pan for around 20 seconds before adding the onion.
  3. Allow the onion to soften for around 8 minutes, before adding the ginger paste and fresh chilli.
  4. Add the squash and potato and cover with the spices along with the cumin and turmeric powder.
  5. Using a fork or potato masher, gently squash the squash and potatoes. You don’t necessarily want it as smooth as mash, but certainly soften from it’s cubed form.
  6. Add the frozen peas and place a lid on the pan for a few minutes, adding a little water if it is becoming too dry. Take off the heat and leave to one side.
  7. Take the filo pastry out of its packet and using one sheet cut into in two horizontally. With the remaining filo pastry cover with a damp cloth.
  8. Working quickly you want to place a spoonful of the filling in the bottom right hand corner of the pastry (see photos). Place a little the melted ghee along the left hand edge of the pastry. Bring the bottom right hand corner of the pastry up to the right hand side at a diagonal to form a triangle (see photos above). Fold over from side to side until you reach the top. Stick the ends with melted ghee and either place on a plate to go into the freezer or one some greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds.
  9. Work your way through all the filling until it has all been used up. Freeze any left over filo pastry.
  10. If you are cooking immediately heat the oven to 180 degrees. Once the oven is hot place the samosas into the oven for 20 minutes – or until they are nicely bronzed.
  11. Eat when they are nice and hot with either a spiced tomato chutney or perhaps some tamarind and date chutney

If you host a curry for change dinner I would LOVE to hear about it. Take a photo and tag #chilliandmint and #curryforchange on twitter/instagram.

 


Crispy Savoury Donut known as Medu Vada

IMG_2627I want to introduce you to a new kid in town that will seriously impress you.

Step aside donut and cronut (croissant and donut pastry) and make way for the Indian savoury donut known as ‘medu vada’. These savoury delicacies look very similar to their saccharin cousins the donut, but are filled with lots of wonderful spices instead of sugar.

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They are really fun to make and you can add your own twists to make them your own. They are a little bit naughty in that they are fried, but hey a little bit of fried deliciousness now and again is absolutely fine in books. They are made of urad dal – the white dal you can easily find in any Asian grocers-  that is soaked for at least 3 hours and then blended to form a soft fluffy paste.

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My daughters find them equally irresistible so they really are a treat for the whole family. They are typically eaten in southern India and Sri Lanka either at breakfast time or as a snack with a coconut chutney or possibly a dal or sambal. I could quite happily eat them for my breakfast but more often then not I make them for an afternoon snack with a cup of warming tea.

They are crispy on the outside and have a soft texture on the interior.

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My recipe makes around 13 little donuts, but if you want to make more just double up on the ingredients. There are no set rules here other than not making the dough too wet.

Medu Vada – Indian Savoury Donuts

Makes 13

175g white urid dal

1/2 tsp salt

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

 12 fresh curry leaves, chopped (optional)

1 green/red fresh chilli finely chopped (optional)

  1. Soak the white urid dal in a bowl covered with water for at least 3 hours.
  2. Strain the dal and place into a blender. Blend and if needed add literally a tsp at a time of water to loosen it slightly. Do not over water. You want it to have the same consistency as a fluffy light dough.
  3. Place the lentil dough into a large bowl and with your hand lift the dough, folding it over so that it gets air into it about 15 times.
  4. Add all the ingredients and mix well with your hands or a spoon.
  5. Heat a pan with cooking oil and when it is hot wet one of your hands and create a small ball (a little larger than a golf ball) and then place your thumb in the centre to create a hole through the dough. Then gently loosen the dough off your hand and place into the hot oil. Be careful when doing this as the movement from placing the dough into the pan and removing your hand needs to be super quick.
  6. Place a few donuts in the pan at once and leave them to bronze on one side for a couple of minutes, before turning them over with a slotted spoon for another couple of minutes.
  7. You are looking to get a yellowy bronze hue as opposed to brown, so be careful to watch them closely.
  8. Remove them from the pan and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.
  9. Continue to make the rest.
  10. If you are planning to serve them as a snack when friends come over simply place them in a preheated oven that has subsequently been turned off. They should stay warm for a good hour.

They are perfect to eat with a chutney, dal or sambal (see links in the body of my post).

Note: 

  • I often don’t add chilli so that all my family can comfortably eat them. For those who like the chilli kick, you can serve them with a hotter chutney, which keeps all parties happy.

 

 

 

 

 


A tasty breakfast treat – spiced semolina (Upma)

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Semolina and I did not start out on a good footing.

For a few years when I was young I attended a convent – not as a nun, but as a pupil, and the nuns had a habit of being very strict. You had to eat every morsel on your plate and were not allowed to leave the table until your plate was clean.

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The food in the early 80’s was not something you would particularly blog about and the puddings that were dished up to us were well, how can I put this politely, not that appetising. The gruel that I particularly disliked was sloppy semolina with a dollop of sweet jam. I found it so hard to eat that on one occasion after the dining hall had emptied and I was sitting all alone and the minutes were ticking by I decided that when Sister was not looking I would deposit the contents of my bowl into my pocket. I did it like a stealth ninja and no one found out, other than my mother, who is such a sweetie she didn’t seem to make much of a fuss.

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Fast forward 34 years and I now love semolina – but only if I eat it the savoury way. In India a hugely popular breakfast snack is spiced semolina known as ‘Upma’. It is so quick and easy to put together it takes minutes to create a really warming bowl of goodness. I eat it at any time of day in all honesty – breakfast, snack, lunch, supper – you name it, it is super versatile. You can also add whatever vegetables need to be used up in the fridge, so it’s a win win in my book.

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Spiced Savoury Semolina – Upma

Serves 2-3 (or for 4 if eating as a snack)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

12 fresh curry leaves

1 fresh green chilli finely chopped

1 banana shallot or small onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

20g fresh ginger, finely grated

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 carrot, finely cubed

60g green beans chopped in half

40g red peanuts

150g course semolina (sooji)

275ml water

  1. Heat a pan with the oil and when it is hot add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh chilli. The mustard seeds will begin to splatter after 20-30 seconds so then add the shallot/onion and salt and lower the heat. Allow the shallot to soften for around 5 minutes.
  2. Add the fresh ginger and turmeric and stir gently.
  3. Now add the carrot and beans or another vegetable that needs using up along with the red peanuts.  After 1 minute add the water and leave to simmer for up to 5 minutes or when the vegetables have softened.
  4. Add the semolina gradually and stir constantly so that it does not clump together too much. Once it has soaked up the water – you can add a little more water if needed at this stage – place a lid on the pan and switch off the heat so that it can steam for a few minutes before serving.

 

 


Vietnamese Summer Rolls – healthy and utterly delicious

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Vietnamese summer rolls, also known as Gỏi cuốn in Vietnam, are THE perfect lunch time meal, starter or snack when the sun is shining and you want something light, tasty and flavoursome. They are great fun to make and you can get creative on what to fill them with. The original Vietnamese ones often have pork loin and prawn wrapped inside them, however, I have always omitted the pork and simply added prawns, but its up to you. If you do include pork loin boil it in water for around 20 minutes and then thinly slice the pork loin when it has cooled.

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Fresh herbs are key and you ideally need: coriander, garden mint and Thai basil, although regular basil will suffice if you can’t lay your hands on the former. If you happen to live near or pass by an Asian grocers pick up some perilla/shiso leaves to add a more authentic flavour. A little lettuce – cos works well – is also good to include (I didn’t have any in my fridge so for the ones above I have not included this). Rice noodles, carrot and cucumber batons are also needed.

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So to wrap you need to follow the photos above:

  1. Pour tap water into a tray and then dip the rice paper in it. Literally quickly submerge and take out straight away or else it will become too wet and sticky.
  2. Place a small amount of herbs, noodles, carrot and cucumber buttons and lettuce if using, at the central bottom of the circular rice paper.
  3. Roll it once and then bring in each side. Now place the prawns (if they are large slice them in two) and a couple of garlic chives/thin slices of  green spring onions with the ends poking out and roll again.
  4. Continue to roll tightly until the rice paper is firmly wrapped around the filling. Place to one side.

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I like to use my nuoc cham dipping sauce – recipe here. Equally they are also tasty if you dip them into a combined sauce of crunchy peanut butter with hoisin sauce.

 

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

makes around 16

A packet of Vietnamese rice paper – size 22cm

300g prawns (if you do not eat prawns you could add tofu)

packet of thin rice noodles

2 large carrots, sliced into thin batons

half a cucumber, slice into thin batons

cos lettuce

large handful of fresh coriander

large handful of fresh garden mint

large handful of thai basil (or regular basil if cannot find thai)

large handful of perilla/shiso leaves – optional

  1. Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for around 7 minutes with a plate covering the bowl to keep in the heat. Check to taste they are cooked and then drain under cold water. Place to one side.
  2. Prepare all the ingredients and place them on a plate ready to use. If you are using giant chunky prawns it is best to slice them in two.
  3. Pour tap water into a tray and then dip the rice paper in it. Literally quickly submerge and take out straight away or else it will become too wet and sticky.
  4. Place a small amount of herbs, noodles, carrot and cucumber buttons and lettuce if using, at the central bottom of the circular rice paper.
  5. Roll it once and then bring in each side. Now place the prawns and a couple of garlic chives/thin slices of  green spring onions with the ends poking out and roll again.
  6. Continue to tightly roll until the rice paper is firmly wrapped around the filling. Place to once side and repeat.

They can be made ahead of time and then covered and placed in the fridge until ready to use. Bring out of the fridge 30 minutes before eating.

I often use my nuoc cham dipping sauce which you can see here. If you like this recipe you might also like some of my other Vietnamese ones such as:

Vietnamese pancakes – bahn xeo

Vietnamese chicken herb salad

Vietnamese fish with turmeric, ginger and dill

Vietnamese chicken rissoles with shallots, lemongrass and garlic

Vietnamese inspired salmon, cucumber, red onion and grapefruit salad

Bun cha

Vietnamese Pho Bo – Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese iced coffee


Speedy Homemade Hummus

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 Ok ok I know, I admit I’m on a bit of a chickpea roll at the moment. Apologies to readers out there who don’t share my enthusiasm on the humble chickpea. I always have tins in my store cupboard so am constantly thinking of new ways to use them. This recipe is certainly not a new one – in fact I was convinced I had popped it up on my blog a couple of years back, but I was thinking of my baba ganoush recipe – click here, which if you haven’t tried….shame on you. Seriously give it a go. You’ll thank me for it.

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Going back to the more ubiquitous hummus – or the more affectionate name that we call it in our house ‘whole mouse’….it is equally straightforward to make. The only unusual ingredient that you may not have come across, but that you can easily get hold of at any major supermarket, is ‘tahini’, which put simply is sesame paste. It’s most commonly used in North Africa, the Middle East and the Levant. You’ll find it sitting next to the peanut butter in most stores. In my opinion you do need this necessary ingredient to give your hummus a more authentic taste so please don’t leave it out.

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The other key ingredients are extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lots of lovely garlic, salt and a little water. How easy!

Now you can jazz things up a bit, which I often like to do by adding one of the following: paprika, sumac, zataar, fried onions or shallots, fresh herbs, roasted beetroot, roasted carrots, cumin powder, black or green olives, turmeric, chilli flakes, sun dried tomatoes….the list is endless. Play around with flavours and find a new version to suit you. I’d love to hear from you if you find a new combination that’s a hit!

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 I’ve kept things simple for my one today by simply adding some fresh pomegranate seeds to give a ruby red jewel effect.  I like the fresh sweetness of the seeds with the hummus. It works really well and looks really pretty too. We eat with our eyes and nose as well as our stomachs after all.

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Homemade Hummus 

Serves – at least 6 (see bowl in photo)

2 tins of chickpeas

3 tbsp tahini

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 lemon, juice only

8 tbsp olive oil (plus a little extra to drizzle at the end)

5 tbsp water

salt to taste

1. Strain the chickpeas and then add them to a blender along with all the ingredients except the olive oil.

2. Blend the ingredients adding the olive oil gradually until smooth.

3. Taste and add more salt/lemon if needed.

4. Place in a bowl and scatter the pomegranate seeds on top along with a drizzle of olive oil.


Chicken and Egg Kathi Roll – a Kolkata speciality

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Snow is forecast for London this week and our boiler has decided that this is the week to completely pack up on us *weeps*. Whilst we wait for a new one to be found and fitted, a small fan heater keeps me from freezing in the study. To keep mood and spirits up I have decided that comfort food is what is needed. Step forward ‘chicken and egg kati rolls’.

They are the perfect lunch time (or anytime come to thing of it) snack to perk you up and give you a feeling of happy blissful contentment.

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My husband is originally from Kolkata and these rolls, or wraps if you will, are very popular in the city. They are a cross between a Mexican burrito and a Lebanese chicken shawarma. In short, they are ridiculously delicious and one is never enough. Take a look at the locals in action on this little YouTube clip below.

I have seen some have a little egg omelette inside as well as the chicken, but I find the way that I prepare them below (and also in the video clip) works efficiently and quickly and allows you to wrap the Kathi roll more easily.

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 To save time you can buy your chapatis (or you could use paratha) but I find that making your own is pretty quick and easy and whilst not as circular as the store bought ones are equally delicious. I use a tawa, which is a flat disc like frying pan, which I picked up at my local Indian store, but if you do not have one a regular frying pan will work equally well.

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There are three steps to making these rolls – 1) the chicken filling, which can be made in advance, 2) the chapatis with the egg coating on one side, 3) the coriander and mint chutney, which can also be made in advance.

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They are best eaten straight away when they are hot. You can make a number of the chapatis with the egg topping and place them in a low warm oven to keep warm, whilst you prepare the rest or you can serve them as and when you prepare the chapatis.

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 My coriander and mint chutney is great with any of my curries and can be stored in the fridge for a week. I like to pop a couple of teaspoonfuls in my kathi roll to give it that extra kick. With a squeeze of lime on top then you have yourself a truly delicious treat.

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Coriander and Mint Chutney

1 handful of fresh coriander, washed and chopped

1 handful of fresh mint, washed and chopped

1 (or 2 if you prefer it hotter) small green chilli, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp sugar

salt to taste

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Place all the ingredients into a small blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Taste and add more salt/sugar as necessary.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

 

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Indian Chapatis with an egg coating

 Makes around 6-8 depending on the size of your chapatis

 200g chapatti (wholemeal) flour

 1 tsp sea salt

 2 tbsp sunflower oil

 125ml warm water

3 eggs, whisked

  1. In a large bowl place the flour, salt and oil and rub together with your fingertips. Gradually add the water so that a dough forms and all the flour is gathered up into one large dough ball.
  2. Place the dough ball on a floured surface and kneed for around 8 minutes so that the dough is soft and springs back when you poke it with your finger.
  3. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Kneed once again for a couple of minutes, before breaking the dough up into smaller dough balls the size of large ping pong balls.
  5. Roll out the small dough ball so that it is circular and thin.
  6. Heat your frying pan or tawa on a medium heat and when it is hot add the chapati (do not add any oil). When you begin to see the chapati form bubbles, after about 30 seconds, you can have a look underneath to see if it is beginning to lightly bronze in places. If it is turn over carefully and using a folded over tea towel press down on the chapati and it will begin to puff up. Press down where the puffing occurs to help the air circulate around the chapati. Do not worry if yours does not puff up every time, it will still taste good.
  7. Gently pour a little of the whisked egg mix onto the side of the chapati that has bronzed slightly and using the back of a spoon swirl it around the whole of the chapati and  then carefully turn it over so that the egg cooks onto the chapati.
  8. Place the chapati onto a warm plate and keep in a low heated oven whilst you prepare the rest of the chapatis.

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Spiced Tomato Chicken filling

2 tsp vegetable/sunflower oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp chat masala

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

300g boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 tsp garam masala

To serve

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 limes, quartered

2 tsp coriander and mint chutney (see recipe above)

1. In a pan heat the oil and add the onion and salt and allow the onion to soften for around 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir with the onion so that it does not burn.

3. Add all the spices, aside for the garam masala and mix well with the onion, garlic and ginger.

4. Add the chopped tomato and allow to soften for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the chicken and stir into the other ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and allow to cook, stirring at intervals for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes so that all the sauce is absorbed and the dish looks dry.

7. Before turning off the heat add the garam masala and stir. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

My fan heater now seems to have broken. I seem to be jinxed. Right I am off to fill up my hot water bottle – something I can usually rely on.


Baked Spiced Beetroot and Feta Samosas

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For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed devouring vegetable samosas. They are basically the Indian vegetarian version of the Cornish pasty and are a great all day snack. At university I would regularly eat one for breakfast before heading off to lectures. Filling and wonderfully spicy, they were a great way to warm the belly and the soul.

 

 

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I often make them the ‘traditional’ way with potatoes, peas, carrots, spices and chilli, but sometimes for a change I like to make them with a twist. Beetroot works really well and if you combine it with feta, cumin seeds, chilli and fresh coriander then you have yourself a really tasty little treat. I thought they seemed quite festive and would make the perfect little starter/snack over the Christmas season.

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Making the filo parcels is a lot easier than you would imagine. If you look at the photographs below you will get the picture of how straightforward they really are to prepare.

 

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First you start by placing a tablespoonful of the cooked spiced beetroot and feta in the bottom right hand corner. You then need to glaze gently the sides of the filo pastry with melted butter so that the samosa sticks together well.

 

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By bringing the bottom right hand corner up to the left hand side you create the first triangle. Should it break at all at this stage do not panic as it will all be hidden as you go on folding the triangles.

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Keep folding the triangle over so that it alternates from side, upwards and then side again until you reach the top. Then add a little more melted butter to the top of the filo pastry and fold over one last time.

 

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Viola. Now you need to give the topside a melted butter glaze and then place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

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After twenty minutes in the oven at 180 degrees you have beautiful bronzed samosas ready for eating. Eat immediately – or once they have cooled slightly.

 

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I often serve them as a starter/snack before serving a curry such as lamb curry, Indian greens and a tasty dal and spiced rice.

 

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They are also an irresistible after school snack (just remember to reduce the chilli if your children are not used to chilli).

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Baked Spiced Beetroot and Feta Samosas

350g beetroot

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 small fresh green chilli, finely sliced (1/2 if you prefer it less hot)

150g feta, diced

1/2 sweet paprika

handful of fresh coriander

8 filo pastry sheets (will make 16 samosas)

butter, for glazing

1. Wash the beetroot and leave the skins on at this stage. Cut the stems so they are short.  Boil in a pan of boiling water for around 20-30 minutes so that they have softened. Test with a sharp knife, if it goes in easily then they are done. The skins will also be able to come away easily when they are ready.

2. Chop into small cubes and place to one side. In a frying pan add the vegetable oil and when it is hot add the cumin seeds and fresh chilli. After 30 seconds add the beetroot and stir well so that they begin to be coated in the cumin seeds and chilli.

3. Add the paprika, fresh coriander and leave on a low heat for 5 minutes.

4. Add the feta and gently fold into the beetroot and spices. Leave for a minute before taking off the heat to cool. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

6.Place one sheet of filo pastry on a chopping board and cut it in half lengthwise. Using the first pasty strip, lightly brush the pastry with melted butter around the edges and place a tablespoonful of the filling in the bottom right hand corner. Bring the corner up to the left hand side of the pastry therefore making a triangle shape. Then bring the triangle straight up to create another triangle before folding over once again so that the triangle folds over to the right hand side of the pastry once again. (See photos above)

7. Continue all the way to the top. With the final edge brush with melted butter and fold over neatly. Turn over and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the exposed side of the samosas with melted butter.  Repeat until you have completed the process.

8. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the samosas has bronzed nicely. Serve immediately with  a chutney or two on the side.

Come back to my blog in a weeks time to get a fab chutney recipe.

Note: You can prepare them (pre cooking) and then freeze them. When you are ready to eat them simply glaze them with melted butter and place them in the oven for 20-25 mins until bronzed. 


Pork Larb – the national dish of Lao

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Larb originates from Lao but is also eaten in North Eastern Thailand where many of the Thai people are of Laotian decent. It is, put simply, a meat mince salad (pork, chicken, turkey or duck) that is placed in a lettuce ‘cup’ and then eaten in a couple of delicious bites. They have a similar lettuce wrap recipe in Korea known as ‘Ssambap’ – ssam meaning ‘wrap’ and bap meaning ‘rice’.

 

 

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My version has replaced the rice, (which is traditionally toasted then roughly ground (Khao Khua) and sprinkled on the top of the mince when serving to help soak up any of the juices) with roughly ground shelled and oven roasted unsalted peanuts. I like the crunch and taste of the nut combining with the minced meat and fresh herbs. If you want to stay true to the original recipe then just add ground toasted rice in place of peanuts. Try both and see which works for you.

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The combination of fresh crunchy salad leaves, fragrantly spiced mince meat and fresh mint and thai basil (or coriander, but I had run out otherwise I would have thrown that in too) is satisfyingly tasty that one, or three in fact, is never quite enough. It is perfect as a canapé, or as a starter whereby guests can put together their own wraps before popping them in their mouths. Personally I love eating with my hands so any excuse to get everyone to throw themselves into this enjoyable pursuit gets the thumbs up in my books.

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If you tone done on the chilli this dish is also a hit with kids (although my 8 yr old has it as is) as it is a little bit different, packed full of flavours and quite simply good fun to eat, which bottom line is what food and eating should all be about. My dish is more Laotian in style and substance, minus the rice sprinkle. The north east Thailand variety varies again omitting fish sauce and lime juice and instead uses a wide range of spices including cinnamon, star anise, long pepper, cumin, cloves amongst others. I’ll post this version in the future.

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Throw yourself into it, try something different. I can assure you that you one wrap is never enough. This will become a firm family favourite I can guarantee.

Pork Larb 

Serves 15 as a canapé or 6-8 as a starter

2 tbsp sunflower oil (or peanut oil if you have it)

2 banana shallots, finely sliced

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp grated garlic

1 tsp lemongrass paste

2 small red chillies, finely chopped (take the seeds out if you like it less hot)

1 kg pork mince

2 limes, juice only

5 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp caster

1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

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30g shelled and oven roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

5 little gem lettuces or similar lettuce

handful of fresh thai basil

handful of fresh mint leaves

handful of coriander leaves

limes wedges to serve

1. In a large pan heat the oil on a medium heat and then add the shallots and fry gently. (Equally 1 large red onion also works well if you cannot get hold of shallots).

2. When the shallots have softened add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and fresh red chilli and stir together gently.

3. Add the pork mince and move around the pan until all the pink meat has become brown. This will take around 8-10 minutes.

4. Add the fish sauce, light soy sauce, lime juice, caster sugar and red chilli flakes and stir into the mince. Leave to cook on a low heat for a further 5 minutes. Just before serving throw in a few fresh herbs and give a good stir.

5. To serve place a tablespoonful of the mince onto the lettuce cup followed by a couple of mint, Thai basil and coriander leaves and a sprinkling of peanuts (or rice if you want to stay totally traditional). Add a splash of lime juice as required.

It can be eaten at room temperature or slightly warm.

* If your mince has juice, cook it for a little longer with the lid off the pan. That should do the trick. If there continues to be some juice, it is best to strain the mince as it is easier to eat on the lettuce cups if there is no juice. 

you can replace the pork mince, with chicken, turkey, duck or I reckon even tofu would work well.


Spiced Aubergine, Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Spring Rolls

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It’s the Easter holidays so my daughters have some wonderful leisured weeks ahead of them. They love to cook too so we decided to make these spiced aubergine, cavolo nero and mushroom spring rolls together. Rolling spring rolls is a great communal activity and actually rather calming and therapeutic. It is very satisfying to make a tightly rolled and neat spring roll – seriously you’ll know what I mean when you give this recipe a go.

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I hope that it gets a big thumbs up from all my vegetarian and vegan followers. The filling is deliciously tasty and even if you do like your meat I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how tasty these little spring rolls actually are.

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Once the filling has been prepared  and roasted the actually filling of the spring rolls is relatively quick. You can make them ahead of time and then leave them in the fridge until you are ready to fry them. Equally you could freeze them to use in the future – they are pretty versatile. IMG_8886

I adore cavolo nero and added to the aubergine, mushrooms and the spiced sauce, it makes for a very tasty filling.

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The trick to rolling spring rolls is to keep the rolls tight and well folded so that none of the filling escapes when frying. Don’t overfill or you may find the rolls cannot be rolled tight enough – I know it’s tempting but do restrain yourself ;o)

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Frying takes a couple of minutes and I tend to do a few at a time. Once they have bronzed, remove from the oil and place on some kitchen roll to cool and to soak up any excess fat. Diving in too quickly will burn your mouth, so let them rest for a short while before feasting. I like to dip them in tamarind chutney or some chilli sauce – the recipe for the former is noted below.

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Spiced Aubergine, Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Spring Rolls

Inspired by a similar recipe from Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me by Denis Cotter

Makes 22 rolls

1 aubergine (weighing 300g), diced

200g cavolo nero (black kale), chopped  and stalks removed

100g mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tsp light soy sauce

1/2 tsp caster sugar

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1/2 large red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

1 tbsp coriander seeds

4 cloves

pinch of fresh nutmeg

22 spring roll pastry sheets

vegetable/sunflower oil for frying

1. In a roasting tray layout the aubergine and mushrooms and scatter with a little olive oil. Roast in oven for 15 minutes, tossing at intervals so that all the ingredients cook and soften.

2. Whilst the aubergine and mushroom are roasting, heat a pan of boiling water and submerge the cavolo nero within it. Cook for 1 minute before straining under cold water and squeezing out the excess water from the cavolo nero. Place to one side on some kitchen paper to dry out thoroughly.

3. Mix the soy sauce, light soy sauce and caster sugar together and when the aubergine and mushrooms are sufficiently cooked transfer them to a bowl and mix in the sauce using a spoon.

4. Using a spice mix or pestle and mortar grind the coriander seeds and cloves together and add the nutmeg. Transfer these and the sliced spring onions and finely sliced red chilli also to the bowl along with the now dry cavolo nero.

5. Lay out a spring role pastry sheet and using your finger or a brush lightly wet the sides of the square. Add a tablespoonful of the aubergine, mushroom and cavolo nero mix towards the bottom of the sheet and then fold over tightly once and then fold in both ends   so that the roll is tightly packaged and then roll until the sheet has been used up. The water that you place on the end will sufficiently hold the spring roll together when cooking.

6. Once all the filling has been used up, heat a deep pan with sunflower/vegetable oil and when it is hot (drop a pinch of flour into it and if it fizzles it is ready) add a couple of the spring rolls at a time. They should take around 2 minutes each to cook. Once they have lightly bronzed place on a plate with kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil.

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Tamarind Chutney

Makes half a ramekin full

1 tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp tamarind concentrate

500ml boiling water

45g palm sugar

1 tsp salt

1. In a pan dry roast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds so that the aromas are released. Place in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder.

2. In a deep pan add the oil and when it is hot add the ground cumin and move around the pan.

3. Add the tamarind concentrate and boiling water and stir so that the concentrate is dissolved. Keep on a medium heat.

3. Add the palm sugar and salt and allow to dissolve into the liquid.

4. Simmer for 25 minutes by which time the liquid will have thickened, although it will still be relatively runny. As it cools it will begin to harden.

5. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to two weeks if not consuming immediately.


Chilli, Feta and Spring Onion Cornbread

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Cornbread is not commonly known about, or eaten for that matter, here in the UK and yet it is the most wonderfully moreish and perfect little bread that works so well with a soup or salad or as a savoury alternative to scones with jam and clotted cream at tea time – not that I eat scones and jam with clotted cream every tea time……only on special occasions!

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My eldest is often famished after a day at school followed by clubs so naturally likes to have a little snack before supper and this bread is a big hit – even with the chilli in. The bread allows you to be creative and put whatever little filling takes your fancy. I like to use feta as it has the perfect saltiness to go with the chilli and the spring onion adds an additional layer of flavour, which I love. Equally courgette and ricotta or caramelised onion and goats cheese would also work really well. Do you have a favourite combination? I would love to hear so please leave a message in the comments section below for us all to see.

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I use Greek yoghurt and milk in my cornbread but you can also use buttermilk, try them both out and see which you prefer. For this recipe I used one egg this time, but if I use small eggs then I often pop in two. As for chilli, jalapeno works well or you can use a milder/hotter one or even dried chilli flakes. Have a go, experiment and let me know what you think. It’s perfect with my Mexican tortilla soup.

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Chilli, Feta and Spring Onion Cornbread

Dry ingredients

160g fine cornmeal (polenta)

60g plain flour

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 red chilli (or 2 if you want that extra kick)

75g crumbled feta

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Wet ingredients

125ml Greek yoghurt

125ml milk

juice of half a lime

1 large egg (or 2 small eggs)

2 tbsp olive oil

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees c.

2. Grease some baking parchment and place in your loaf tin. Mine is 24x14cm. By all means use a smaller tin – your loaf will just have more depth, which is good. Without baking parchment you may find your loaf is harder to remove from the tin after baking.

3. Mix all your dry ingredients together in one bowl.

4. Place all your wet ingredients together in another bowl/jug and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in gently with a wooden spoon.

5. Pour into your tin and level off with a spatula. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and firm to touch on the top.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for at least 5 minutes before taking the bread out of the tin and removing the baking parchment.

 Serve warm or toasted with Mexican tortilla soup