Category Archives: dinner

Let’s. Slow. Down.

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I feel like I’m in this race. And I always lose. In fact, the harder I try, the more I feel like I’m failing. And my opponent, it taunts me… like some sneering element watching me struggle.

Time.

My so-called race against the clock is incessant and exhausting.

I am demanding of myself, yes. And come what may, there are certain things that find space in my schedule: fitness, and food. There are other things that ought to have priority in my schedule and don’t. I work hard and don’t play hard enough

I hereby declare that I am not playing that futile game of racing against time any more. I am officially slowing down and breathing space into my schedule, my priorities and my life.

Here is a recipe for braised cabbage, which, takes a lovely while to cook :)

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Cream Braised Green Cabbage

(recipe very slightly adapted from Orangette)

1 small green cabbage
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
160ml double cream

Wash and prepare your cabbage by pulling away and bruised leaves and trim off the end. Cut into quarters, and again (so you have wedges).

In a large pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and layer the cabbage wedges down so that they each have contact with the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the bottom layer is nicely browned and starting to caramelize.

Turn each wedge over carefully. When the second side has browned, sprinkle the salt and add the cream. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and simmer gently for around 20 minutes.

Remove the lid, flip the wedges once more and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the cabbage is very tender. Shake the pan and simmer uncovered for a final 5minutes to thicken the cream to a glaze.

Keep the clock away. Serve immediately with salt to taste.

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Greens. You know you want to.

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…. Just in case you were thinking that all I’m eating these days is wedding cake cast offs and copious amounts of raw cake mix (ahem)…. I thought I would allay those concerns with this so-good-I-almost-cried plate of greens.

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Truth be told, I have been having a lot of greens lately: most mornings start with a raw green juice of broccoli, kale, spinach, celery, apple, cucumber, spirulina and wheatgrass (try that for a 5am wake-up call (well actually my current juicer is so loud I’m pretty sure that it is a wake-up call for my too-kind neighbours but that is another story)).

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The sound of this story, is a blissfully silent one of sheer appreciation. This dish is so good in its wholesome simplicity, so beautific in its glorious greenery and so comforting in the warmth of its goodness that it deserves an applause. As does Sarah B of ‘mynewroots’. Superstar.

The sweet tang of the dressing perfectly counter balances the gentle crunch of raw greens and the delightful squelch of soft soba. It’s just… too good. If you are still reading this post, be gone. Go make the dish. Now.

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Greens n Noodles (recipe adapted from Sarah B at mynewroots).

Ingredients:

125g brown rice noodles /buckwheat / wholewheat soba
Handfuls of mixed greens (swiss chard, kale, spinach, spring greens etc)

Dressing:
1 tbsp. tamari (soy sauce works too)
2 tbsp. cold-pressed sesame oil
2 tsp. raw honey (or maple syrup)
2 tsp. brown rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
Juice of ½ a lime
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
2 spring onions, sliced
½ red chili, minced

Toppings:
¼ cup mixed black and white sesame seeds
¼ cup cashews
½ cup coriander, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped

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1. In a small dish whisk dressing ingredients together, season to taste. Set aside.

2. Boil a pot of salted water and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and pour a little of the dressing over and toss well to coat.

3. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast sesame seeds until fragrant. Do the same with the cashews.

4. Wash and greens and spin them dry. Remove any tough stalks, stack leaves, roll up and slice into thin ribbons. Add to a large bowl pour remaining dressing over, throw in some mint and coriander and toss well to coat.

5. Add dressed greens to dressed noodles and dish up .To serve, you can add additional herbs, nuts, seeds, etc. It’s a bowlful of health this recipe.

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Cauliflower-base Pizza

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I know. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds fundamentally wrong. Pizzas, by their very nature are meant to be indulgent, unvirtuous and altogether fun. What on earth was I thinking when I made a pizza base out of shredded cauliflower? Of all things, cauliflower?!

It’s not the spring-air getting to me. It was a moment of inspiration I received from an article in the Guardian Food feature. Although, I was working on some spreadsheets at the time, so frankly, even wet lettuce with garlic paste would have seemed an inspiring prospect.

So. I went ahead and added ‘cauliflower’ to my weekly organic veg box delivery. And then, cancelled it. Using my iPhone, on the commuter train home. Yes, it was that urgent. In the dark commuting reality of the day, I realised the craziness of it all.

But then… it haunted me. I felt defeatist. Like I’d just given up on the idea of that healthy pizza. So… last night I went to the supermarket and picked up a cauliflower (as well as enough pizza toppings to disguise the taste lest it turn out as badly as I had expected it might).

I made it. I ate it. Every last bit. And not because I heard the voices of the school dinner ladies telling me I ought, not because I heard my mother’s voice telling me it was good for me. I ate it because…. it was yummy. Really, truly, scrumptiously yummy.

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Gluten-free cauliflower based pizza

(recipe, barely adapted from atalovestory.com)

For the crust:
1 medium sized cauliflower, grated or shredded
1 egg
150g goat’s cream cheese
For the tomato sauce:
1 onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
400g tinned plum tomatoes
fresh basil, handful
pizza toppings of your choice

1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. To make the crust, add the cauliflower to a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then wrap in a teatowel and squeeze out any excess water.

3. In a bowl, mix the grated cauliflower with the cream cheese and egg, and season.

4. Spread the cauliflower mix across the baking tray and shape if you wish. Bake for approximately 30mins, or until firm and golden.

5. Whilst the crusts are baking, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and saute. Add teh garlic and stir briefly, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 20mins.

6. When the crusts are ready, spoon the tomato sauce over the top and spread evenly. Add toppings as desired (here I used baby spinach, parma ham, mushrooms, red peppers and mozzarella).

7. Bake for about 10mins until the cheese is golden/ toppings are just done.

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Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata with Basil Oil

Do you ever have go-to dishes? Those meals that you know you can rustle up easily, using the contents of your cupboard, and be wholly satisfied and fulfilled both because you’ve been well fed and because you haven’t exerted much effort or time in doing so? If I had one such dish, this frittata would be it. I initially read about it in the Guilt Free Gourmet cookbook, where cavolo nero is used. I don’t always have cavolo nero and other such wonderful greens readily accessible at my greengrocers, so I have found baby spinach or chard to be great substitutes. And the dish has since been added to my repertoire of go-to dishes. It’s packed full of wonderful greens, vegetables and colours which makes it a culinary delight to devour with all of one’s senses. And it’s a good thing, too, because when I arrive home late from work some nights, tired, cold and in need of comforting, it is dishes like this that lift my spirits and stop me from eating ice cream sandwiches for supper (yep, it has happened).

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Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata with Basil Oil
adapted from Guilt Free Gourmet)

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into wedges
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (or a few cherry tomatoes)
Bunch of spinach / chard/ cavalo nero, washed and roughly chopped
6 medium eggs
Bunch of basil
1 garlic clove

Method

Preheat oven to 180C (or preheat grill).

Toss the potatoes, onions and tomatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper. Roast in the oven for 30mins or until all the vegetables are very soft.

If using cavolo nero or chard, be sure to remove the stalks. If using spinach (I love to use baby spinach, keep the leaves whole), blanch in salted water for 1-2 mins, drain and move to a large gently heated frying pan. Add the roasted veg to the pan too.

Crack and beat the eggs and season well. Pour over the vegetables in the frying pan. Using a medium to high heat, allow the egg to cook on the stove for a few minutes. When you can see that the edges have cooked, move the pan into the over/ or under the grill for a further five minutes, or until you can see that all the egg is cooked through.

Finely chop the basil and garlic and combine with 6 tbsp olive oil to make a loose basil oil. Drizzle over the frittata and serve with salad.

Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an anytime awesome snack!

Grilled Frittata

Purple Potato and Lentil Salad

How do they do it? You know, those chic City chicks in their Jimmy Choos and Prada tote bags, slung over one arm as if this accessory arrangement poses just as slight an inconvenience as high heels on the London Underground; how do they do it? I once had one of my heels stuck in the doorway of an underground train just as the doors were closing, only to have a gentleman on the platform grab hold of my leg and help free me from the potential pain and embarrassment of having my leg stuck between the doors; chivalry isn’t altogether lost..

This morning, I arrived at my office, in flat shoes, a large handbag (housing everything from a food book to a packed lunch), a gym kit and an umbrella. I looked less City-chic and more commuter bag-lady. I know my friend Rekhi is squinting at the screen in cringing agony at this latter statement but it’s true. And I still don’t get it. How do these women pull off the ‘just walked off the cover of a glossy magazine’ look? If ever I find out, I’ll promise to share. For now though, all I have to share with you are recipes and wonderful food finds. Like this one, using vitelotte (aka purple potatoes). Frankly, I don’t care if my hair isn’t fly-away free when my suppers look like this:

Vitelotte Salad

Purple Potato and Lentil Salad

(adapted from the ‘lentil almond stir fry recipe’ of 101cookbooks)

Ingredients
1 cup fresh mint
1/2 red chilli pepper, de-seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
6-10 vitelotte (or small new potatoes), peeled and halved
2 cups brown lentils
12 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
3 dates, pitted and chopped

Method

To make the mint sauce dressing: in a blender, combine the mint leaves, chilli, olive oil, salt, honey, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine, so as to leave the mint still in chunks.

Cook the lentils in some salted water. Whilst the lentils are cooking, make the potatoes: add olive oil and salt to a pan/ cover with lid, and cook the potatoes. On a medium heat this takes up to 15 minutes. Stir frequently, once soft, turn up the heat to brown off the potatoes, giving them a slightly crisp edge. Remove the potatoes and add to the pan of cooked lentils. Next cook the brussels sprouts using the same pan, adding another splash of olive oil. Place the sprouts in the pan (single-layer), sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for a few minutes; until just tender, then uncover the pan and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized.

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Add the lentils and potatoes back to the pan and mix together. Dish up with some yoghurt on the side, and the mint sauce drizzled over the top. Scatter the chopped dates over the salad. Best served warm.

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If you are lucky enough to stumble upon purple potatoes, buy them. Just so that you can make this salad. It’s so pretty. And tastes nutty and sweet. I think pomegranate would be an awesome addition too, if you can make the effort to peel them (I never can).

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So pretty!

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Snowfall and Stuffed Peppers

It happens sometimes. When the sheet of paper is as white as the snow outside and one can find nothing to say. I have hitherto considered myself foremost a writer and then a photographer and then a foodie. A reversal of that order has been taking place… like tectonic plates, slowly shifting the dynamics of my life long before any eruption at the surface. I never thought blogging would be challenging from the perspective of sharing words, anecdotes or literary pieces. However, whilst I have a backlog of food stuffs that I want to share, it is the words that don’t come. So this time, I won’t try. Instead, I just picked up my camera…

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Oh. And I rustled up some peppers. Sweet romanos work best with this recipe.

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Stuffed Romano Peppers

Two romano peppers
150g Lentils (puy lentils are a good choice)
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Mozarella (optional but oh so good)
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh basil leaves

Cook the lentils in good veg stock, half hour, until soft.

Halve the peppers lengthways and deseed.

Spoon the lentils into the peppers and top with tomatoes and mozarella and olive oil.

Bake at 200C for 25 mins. Scatter with fresh basil.

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Best served with salad, bread or broccoli.

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