Pressed Tofu with Cabbage

This is another wonderful recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. It is very satisfying. To press tofu, select a medium to firm tofu, place between two teatowels under a baking tray, and put something heavy on top, such as a tin of beans. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • around 100g pressed tofu (firm)
  • 225g cabbage (works well with brussels sprouts too)
  • 2 fresh hot green chillies
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

METHOD:

  • Chop the ingredients as follows: 
    • Cut the tofu into julienne strips 4cm long
    • Core the cabbage and cut into fine strips
    • Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and slice into 1/2 cm slices
    • Cut the spring onions into 4cm lengths, and shred lengthways
    • Cut the green chillies into fine 4cm strips
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the wok over a  medium/high heat and fry the bean curd for about 10 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Add the rest of the oil to the bowl, and add the ginger slices for 20 seconds, pressing into the side of the wok. Then add the garlic and fry for a further 15 seconds. 
  • Add the chillies, mushrooms and spring onions, and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the shredded cabbage, and frying for a further minute. 
  • Add the wine, then the soy sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Add each ingredient round the edge, and stir, before adding the next. After another minute add the bean-curd. 

The original recipe says to remove the ginger slices beforehand, but I can never find them, which is why I chop it up finely. 

Pollack with chickpeas and chorizo

A friend of ours came to the back door with a couple of very fresh large pollack, just as I was contemplating what to have for tea. I was about to make a Norwegian dish from Davidson’s, involving cheese and macaroni, but then I turned to Google. 

When I search for recipes online, I type in the ingredients that I have, and then pick out interesting sites to check what they suggest. I sometimes pick up flavour suggestions, or some interesting methods. I don’t like sites with too many photographs, it makes it hard to find and follow the recipe. I also don’t like sites with poor formatting, or dodgy programming that don’t let you download the recipe so that it is readable.

The BBC food website is reliable, informative and full of good ideas, so when I spotted this recipe, I had to try it. I had to tweak it to fit my ingredients and timescale, though. I get all my spices and herbs from Seasoned Pioneers, if you wondered. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • coarse sea salt
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 large pollack, filleted, skinned and boned
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped, 
  • 4 cooking chorizos (about the size of a standard sausage, and soft) cut into 1 cm lengths
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chick peas (or 150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125g spinach (could be more, but that is all I had)

METHOD:

  • Cut the fillets of pollack in half to make four good-sized portions, In a close-fitting plastic container with a lid, sprinkle the pollack with coarse salt and a pinch of saffron, and ensure that the fish is well-coated. Cover, and put in the fridge.
  • After an hour and a half, start preparing the rest of the stew. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Put a casserole dish on a medium/high heat, add the olive oil, and fry the onions, garlic and chillies for 6 minutes or so. 
  • Add the chunks of chorizo, and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
  • Add the cumin, paprika, bay leaves and cinnamon, and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or so. 
  • Add the drained chickpeas, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and then put it in the oven for 45 minutes. 
  • Next, remove the stew from the oven, check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. I also reduced the stew a bit on the stove top at this stage. 
  • Take the fish from the fridge, thoroughly rinse off the salt and pat dry, before adding to the top of the stew, and returning the casserole to the oven for a further 12 minutes. 
  • To serve, lift the fish onto warmed dishes, and then stir the spinach into the stew before ladling it onto and around the fish. 

We also had some fresh bread and olives at the table, and a Spanish white wine. 

Tagliatelle with St Agur Cream sauce and spinach.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from ‘Vegetarian Pasta’ by Rose Elliot. We had quite a lot of cream and cheese left towards the end of the Christmas break, so this was an excellent way to pull everything together. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 300ml cream 
  • salt, black pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • 400g tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 125g blue cheese such as St Agur or dolcelatte, chopped
  • 125g spinach leaves, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add the onion. Cook very gently for ten minutes with the lid on. The onion should be tender, but not brown. 
  • Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the cream, and leave to simmer very gently for another ten minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the tagliatelle. When the water boils, add the pasta, give it a stir and leave to cook for around 8 minutes. 
  • A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cheese and spinach to the sauce, and stir to warm through, and season with pepper. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta and put it back in the warm pan, add a tablespoonful of good olive oil and stir. 
  • Serve in warm dishes with the sauce poured over the top. You can also pour the sauce onto the pasta in the pan, stir, and then serve onto warm dishes. 

Tofu and broccoli

Another outstanding and adaptable recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Eastern Vegetarian Cooking.  Tofu and any of the cabbage family is very good. A top tip from the recipe book, after chopping the broccoli, freshen it in cold water until you need it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 175ml stock
  • 1 tbs shaohsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tps soy sauce 
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 spring onion
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 225g broccoli florets and stems, all about 4cm long
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • roughly 225g medium tofu, cut into 2cm cubes or thereabouts

METHOD: 

  • Put the cornflour in a cup or small jug, and add 50ml of the stock, and mix before adding the sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil. 
  • Cut the spring onion into 4cm lengths and then shred lengthways into strips. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for 10 seconds, then add the broccoli and spring onion. Continue to fry for around a minute. 
  • Add the rest of the stock, cover and simmer on medium/low for a minute until the broccoli is hot but still crisp. Lift the broccoli out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Turn the heat to low, and add the tofu, heating it through. Once it is hot, stir the cornflour mixture in the jug, to ensure it is well mixed, and then pour over the tofu. Mix very gently, and then return the broccoli to the pan. Continue to cook on low, stirring very gently, until the sauce is thick and everything is hot. 

Tofu in a spicy ginger sauce

I am home alone this week, and experimenting with ingredients. I was very pleased to find tofu in Creagorry Co-op recently, and this was the recipe that I tried tonight. It is very easy to prepare, and can be varied quite a bit. I’ll put all the variations in brackets. I got the basic recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I have the first edition, complete with stains and a burnt cover. Very authentic. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp cornflour (or Japanese arrowroot – kudzu)
  • 100 to 200ml vegetable stock (or beef stock)
  • 1 tsp chilli paste with soy bean (or sriracha +/- miso paste) 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, preferably Chinese thin soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or Basra date syrup)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried ginger, added to the stock)
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced into rounds, including the greens
  • 1 block of bean curd (about 300g) cut into cubes – can be as large as 2cm cubes. 

METHOD:

  • Prepare the sauce. Put the cornflower into a bowl or jug, and mix in a little stock and stir out any lumps. Then add the rest of the stock, along with the chilli paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and sugar, and mix well. 
  • Make sure the other ingredients are fully prepared and lined up. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok (medium high) and then add the garlic and ginger, stirring and frying for 10 seconds. 
  • Add the spring onions. Stir and fry for 5 seconds. 
  • Add the tofu. Stir and fry for 1 minute
  • Add the sauce, turn the heat to low, stir gently and simmer until the sauce thickens. 

I served with steamed broccoli, toasted sesame seeds and noodles. 

Persian Lamb and Celery Stew (Khoresht-e Karafs)

We got hold of some locally raised mutton the other week, and the first thing I made was this, so delicious. I love Persian food, and this recipe is just wonderful, so subtle and warming. It should be served with barberry rice, (zereshk polo), but we had it with plain rice, because I didn’t know at the time. 

The recipe is from Maryam Sinaiee’s book, Nightingales and Roses. All of the recipes I have tried from this book have been easy to follow, and delicious. She also writes a food blog called The Persian Fusion, which has a good gluten-free section as well. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head of cellery
  • 100g flat-leaf parsley
  • 80g mint leaves
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb or mutton, cut into chunks (preferably lamb neck fillet or lean shoulder, but I had a bit of leg)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp plain foulr
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • black pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy casserole dish, and fry the onions over a moderate heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the lamb/mutton and the turmeric, and fry until lightly browed on all sides. 
  • Pour over boiling water, to cover the meat by a couple of centimetres. Bring to the boil, and then lower the heat so that the lamb/mutton can cook for the next hour. 
  • Next up, prepare the herbs. Remove any tough-looking stems from the mint and parsley, and add any leaves from the celery. Put them in a food processor, or slice finely. This makes quite a mound of chopped herbs. 
  • While the lamb continues to cook, cut the celery stalks into 2 centimetre pieces. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the celery along with 2 tbsp water, and cover. The celery should cook for about half an hour, until almost soft and beginning to brown at the edges. 
  • Once the meat has been cooking for an hour, add the cooked celery pieces with all their juices. 
  • In the frying pan, heat another 2 tbsp oil, and add the herbs and flour, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes, making sure that the herbs don’t burn. Add the cooked herbs to the stew. 
  • Bring the stew back to the boil and cook for another hour (possibly an hour and a half) – the meat should be really tender and the sauce should be thickened. 
  • Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, cook for a further five minutes. 

Serve with rice; I will test out the Zereshk Polo recipe soon. 

Sajjeyya – Syrian beef stew with arak

We are eating the last of the beef we got from Dr Louise, from cattle grazed on Askernish Machair. I made this last week, so easy. It is from #CookforSyria, a recipe book that I bought two years ago. The website link also tells you a little bit more about the creation of CookforSyria, a celebration of Syrian food culture, and a fund-raiser for Unicef. 

This dish is meant to be cooked in a single pot, as part of a barbecue, picnic or other al-fresco dining event. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g beef, cubed
  • 100g suet, beef fat or other cooking fat
  • 2 aubergines, cubed
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 125ml of Arak (or Raki, or Ouzo)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In the pot, cover the beef in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Any stock that is produced can be used for other dishes. 
  • Take the beef out of the water, and reserve the stock for another day. In the pan, fry the beef fat for a few minutes then add the chopped vegetables and the beef. Add a few spoonfuls of the stock from earlier. 
  • Cover and leave to simmer for 25 minutes, and then add the Arak, and simmer for a further five minutes. 
  • Serve with flat bread and/or rice. 

Beef Jhal Faraizi

I had no idea that Jhal Faraizi was designed to use up left-overs. In fact, this recipe is almost like stovies, but with more meat, and green Chillies. Madhur Jaffrey’s book Curry Easy gives a short history of the origins of the dish, which originated in Bengal. Some versions have a sauce, but this is more pared back, and quick and easy. I didn’t have any left-over potatoes or beef, so this version includes cooking from scratch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium floury potatoes
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fresh hot green chillies, chopped finely
  • around 350g beef (could be left-overs) – diced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly sliced
  •  Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Boil the potatoes whole, and then set aside to cool
  • Poach the beef in some water and ginger, for around 20 minutes, then strain and remove the ginger. I kept the liquid back and used it as stock in another recipe. 
  • When the potatoes are cool, peel them and cut into small dice. 
  • Put the oil in a large frying pan, and heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle briefly. 
  • Add the onion, potatoes and chillies, then turn the heat down a bit, and stir, cooking until the onions are translucent, around five minutes. 
  • Add the meat, a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Stir and mix for a minute, and turn the heat down very low. Press the mixture down into the pan and then cook gently for around 15 minutes. 
  • We had this with poached eggs on top. 

Potato Gnocchi with mushrooms cheese and parsley

Shows Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese
Potato gnocchi with mushrooms and cheese

Malcolm came back from a trip to the mainland with some gnocchi, a cauliflower, and some mushrooms. I vetoed the cauliflower, so we had this dish. This served two. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g Gnocchi
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g grated hard cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • A punnet of mushrooms, chopped
  • a shallot 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Butter
  • Herbs e.g. sage or thyme
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic finely, and fry in butter until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and herbs, and continue to fry until the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Meanwhile boil the gnocchi according to the instructions. 
  • Mix the mushrooms, cheese, and gnocchi together, and add enough butter to ensure that the gnocchi are coated. Adjust seasoning. 
  • Serve garnished with parsley

I have seen versions that include blue cheese or spinach. 

Salar smoked salmon frittata

I’m home alone this week, Mr Bolton is checking up on family members in the south, sleeping in his van and stocking up on essentials. I have a lot of eggs, and a lot of potatoes, so frittata was inevitable. I also had a box of Salar off-cuts from a local supermarket, so I made this. I had half last night and half tonight. 

salmon frittata

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked with the skins on and cooled. (left-over potatoes are the best)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • black pepper
  • flaky smoked salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Garnish – choose from chive flowers, chopped parsley, or dukkha spice mix

METHOD:

  • Heat the grill
  • Cut the potatoes into thick slices, and fry in the olive oil until crisp and golden brown on both sides
  • Season the eggs with the pepper, and pour over the potatoes, and scatter the salmon and garnish over the top. Stir a little to allow raw egg to the bottom of the pan. 
  • When it is nearly cooked, pop it under the grill so that the top begins to set. 

That is all – ready to eat.