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. 

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. 

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. 

Sweetcorn fritters

These are a childhood classic – we used to get these about once a week, often served with bacon. I’ve no idea whose idea it is, but I made them this afternoon for Cedar, who is three today. He helped me make them, mixing the egg in and stirring in the milk. He ate three and a half before he was full. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g self-raising flour (or 4 mounded tablespoons)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a pinch of salt
  • around 150ml milk
  • 1 small can of sweetcorn, drained. 

METHOD

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl, with the pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre and put the beaten egg in, mixing together. 
  • Stir the milk in gradually, until the batter is the consistency of cream. 
  • Add the sweetcorn, and mix again. 
  • Fry in an oiled pan over a medium heat. Drop in dessert-spoonfuls of batter, and when the bottom is cooked, you should be able to see bubbles setting on the surface of the batter. Turn them over and cook on the other side. 
  • Serve with bacon, and if you like it, tomato ketchup.

Teeny tiny potatoes

OK, so nobody admits to growing teeny tiny potatoes. I was given a bag of mixed potatoes by a friend, their first go at home-grown spuds. I think the plants had had a hot dry time of it, and were probably harvested too early as well. At the bottom of the bag was a selection of potatoes about the size of a marble. This is what I did with them. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Teeny tiny potatoes.
  • Butter
  • Garlic 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley

METHOD:

  • I boiled the teeny tiny potatoes in salted water for ten minutes, and then drained them. 
  • I melted the butter in the pan, and fried the garlic until it was golden, then added the tiny potatoes along with seasoning and continued to cook until the potato skins were beginning to colour and crisp up a bit. 
  • Then I added the chopped parsley, and served

I added some very fresh cooked carrots the second time I made this. 

 

 

Chickpeas and potatoes

I have no idea where I found this recipe, I think it dates back to student days in the 1980s. There are lots of notes and at least two totally different versions in my old recipe book. It works well with or without the potatoes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely chipped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed, ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tins of chickpeas (do not drain)
  • 1 tbsp amchoor or juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes, and put into cold water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fresh green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat, until beginning to brown, around 10 minutes
  • Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric, stir, and reduce the heat
  • Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the chickpeas with their liquid from the tin, and around 200ml water, and the amchoor, and paprika. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes. 
  • At this point, it may be wise to set the pan aside for a day or too, for the flavour to develop. 
  • To serve, drain and pat dry the potato cubes. Fry in oil for 10 minutes over a medium to high heat, stirring. 
  • Stir in the ginger and chillies, and then the fried potatoes, and serve. 

Leeks and carrots cooked in olive oil

This is a lovely lemony dish, good as a side-serving with sausages and mash. It could be served at room temperature with bread for a light lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g leeks, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut in half lengthways then thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 240 ml hot water
  • 1 tsp sugar, or date syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a wide heavy frying-pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onions and carrots for 3 minutes or so. Then add the leeks and rice, and stir to combine. 
  • Add the hot water, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir again. 
  • Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for around 20 minutes. Set aside to cool with the lid on. 

This is good garnished with chopped parsley. 

 

Green bean and potato kuku (Persian frittata)

We have a lot of potatoes at the moment, so I’m digging around in the recipe books for new things to do. This is a recipe from ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. This is quite filling, and is good cold the next day as well. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced (around 1 cm cubes)
  • 3 packs of green beans (around 600g)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • a large pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten. 

METHOD:

  • Heat about 3-4 tbsp oil in a deep frying pan and cook the potato cubes for around 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and put in a bowl lined with kitchen paper.
  • Fry the beans and carrots in the same oil for around 10 minutes, and then add them to the potatoes. 
  • Set the oven to 200C. Mix the salt, flour, baking powder and spices.
  • Beat the eggs, add the vegetables and flour/spice mix and stir to combine. 
  • My frying pan has an oven-safe handle so it is perfect. Otherwise use a shallow casserole dish. Put 2 tbsp oil in the pan and heat it in the oven for four minutes so it is hot. Pour in the mixture, and bake for 30 minutes, so the top is golden. 
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool a little, and cut into wedges.