Sticky Tofu with Noodles & Zingy Lime Dressing (v)

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This is another brilliant dish for hot weather when you don’t want to be slaving over a hot stove but still want something tasty, nutritious and filling in your belly. Choose whatever veggies you have to hand and swap the noodles for rice if necessary.

For three portions you need

  • 1 pack tofu, pressed. (we prefer cauldron foods and use a tofu torture press – worth every penny). Cut into thin strips.
  • 1/2 bottle hoisin sauce
  • 1 pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cucumber, cut into ribbons with a speed peeler
  • 1/2 chinese cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 nests thin rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

Dressing

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1″ piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 thai chillies, finely grated
  • 1 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup
  1. Begin by making the dressing. I keep my chillies and ginger in the freezer so I always have fresh available. This also means I can grate them straight into a dressing to ensure even distribution in the dressing. Combine all the ingredients together and leave to mingle.
  2. Soak the noodles in boiling water according to the instructions. Once ready, drain and refresh in cold water and squeeze out any excess to prevent the dish from being too soggy.
  3.  Heat a griddle pan and add the oil. Stir fry the broccoli for 2-3 mins until slightly charred. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
  4. Re-heat the pan and place the tofu in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 mins on a high heat until crispy and golden brown. Turn and repeat. You may need to add a little more oil.
  5. Once the tofu is crispy, pour over the hoisin sauce and remove from the heat. Toss the tofu until coated. Do not keep it on the heat or the sugar in the sauce will burn and it will taste nasty.
  6. Dress the bowls with all the ingredients, finishing with the hot tofu. Drizzle over the sauce and top with slices of spring onion and coriander.

Simple Mango Sorbet (v)

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With the warmer weather last week, we ate a LOT of ice cream and sorbet so I had a go at making some mango sorbet myself. This is pretty easy if you have an ice cream maker. If you don’t, simply pour the mix into a tub and freeze it, remembering to take it out and beat it every hour or so to keep too many ice crystals from forming. I cheated and used a tin of ready made puree because frankly it’s cheap, easy to use and you know it’s going to be sweet and perfect. If you have a glut of fresh mangoes, puree the flesh and sweeten to taste, remembering that when you freeze something you need to add a little more sugar than normal.

For approx 900ml of sorbet you need:

  • 1 tin mango puree
  • 5ml liquid glycerine
  1. Chill the tin of puree overnight in the fridge and make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is likewise frozen overnight (unless you have one of those fancy pants ones that doesn’t need to be frozen).
  2. Pour the puree into the machine along with the glycerine. Churn until thickened then transfer to a tub and finish freezing in the freezer until you are ready to eat it.

Sourdough mk 2 (V)

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After writing up my first attempts at making sourdough using Dan Lepard’s method and quantities as a guide, @them_apples on instagram was sharing pictures of his amazing loaves made using @elaine_foodbod’s method. So I jumped ship and boy am I glad I did!

There’s no kneading, just a fold every hour or so for a couple of hours after the autolyse stage. And then you leave it out overnight to rise and become a bowl of bubbles.

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The structure of the dough gives an insight into the delicious loaf it’s going to become:

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After experimenting, my timings are ever so slightly different to Elaine’s – I bake mine from cold in a dutch oven for 60 mins at 220. I then remove the lid of the pot and bake for a further 10-15 minutes to deepen the crust.

We eat one 500g loaf every 2-3 days. This method means that hopefully I can keep baking bread once we return to working away from home. The bread can be done at the beginning and end of the day and the loaves proved overnight (day 1) and in the fridge (day 2).

 

Simple Curry Sauce (v)

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This is a quick and simple curry sauce that tastes just like the sauce base you get from the takeaway. Play around with the heat to adjust to taste and add other embellishments depending on mood and what needs to be used up – some cream or yogurt perhaps or some butter or even some desiccated coconut instead of the ground almonds.

For 3-4 portions you need

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped into pieces
  • 2 finger chillies (adjust to taste, we like a spicy curry!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1 tsp each of turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and curry powder
  • About 200ml water
  • 3-4 tbsp ground almonds
  1. Begin by placing the tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger in a blender and smooshing to a smooth consistency.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan until hot and then add the curry leaves. Cook out for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes and stir to fry off in the oil.
  4. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Cook for about 10 mins until the raw smell of the onions has eased off a little.
  5. Add everything else apart from the almonds. Cook out for another 5-10 mins, adjusting the seasoning, heat and consistency of the sauce to suit.
  6. If you’re making this into a curry e.g. chana masala or paneer etc add these now and heat into the sauce.
  7. Finish by adding the ground almonds to thicken and lighten the sauce, adjust the seasoning again if necessary and scoff. You can add a spoonful of cream, yogurt or butter at this stage too to enrich the sauce if you want.

We had it as paneer curry the first time and as a sauce for a vegetable and chickpea biryani last night, yummy!

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Sourdough (v)

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Yes, I know. I’m a cliche. But frankly, if you can’t learn to make bread, and sourdough at that, during a lockdown when can you? I’ve long wanted to learn how to master this most elusive of baking arts and I have tried before in the past and failed. My starter turned pink and smelled vile. I never tried again. This time however it’s a different story. A very lovely friend made me a starter a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t looked back. I used to buy 2-3 loaves of artisan bread a week in the days when I could visit a farmers market. Our local veg shop (Nelson’s) started stocking it a few months ago too so I’d add a loaf to my fruit and veg basket. But then you-know-what happened and we all had to stay home, forever. So I started baking and boy am I glad I did! This recipe is a combination of things I’ve been trying over the last few weeks resulting in my best loaf to date tonight. Have fun baking and experimenting.

The Recipe

This is taken from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I’ve tweaked the method but the quantities are his.

For 1 loaf you will need:

  • 325g strong flour (white is my preference but wholemeal works just as well)
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 150g starter – replenish with 75g each of plain flour and water mixed to a paste
  • 225ml or thereabouts of water.

I’ve tried this as a quick rise (well as quick as sourdough can be) and also an overnight rise in the fridge. I prefer the quick method but as and when we can go back to work away from home I can see the overnight rise being deployed so I can bake around commuting.

Method

  1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix.
  2. Heat the water for 30 secs on high to get it to the right temperature.
  3. Add the  starter to the bowl and 2/3 of the water. Mix. Add as much water as you need to bring it together into a shaggy, sticky ball.
  4. Leave on the side for 15-30 mins to rest.
  5. Turn out onto an oiled counter and knead for 5-10 mins. It will be VERY sticky and I recommend a dough scraper to help with this stage. I can’t knead the dough per se, but tend to let it stick to my hands and push it about on the worktop until it changes texture. It’s very therapeutic kneading by hand and I like to see how it feels when it’s ready as the consistency changes and you know you’ve worked it enough.
  6. Scrape the dough from your hands, wash out and oil the bowl then place the dough into the oiled bowl. I find it useful to bring the dough in onto itself at this stage to form a nice shape, just keep pinching the sides and bringing into the middle of the ball of dough until you are happy with it.
  7. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise either on the side (about 2 hours depending on the warmth of the room) or for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Dan says it should double in size so I use that as my guide. When it’s risen enough you can gently poke the surface of the dough and your finger hole will disappear as the dough springs back. If an indentation stays it’s not quite ready and needs a bit longer. You cannot rush this stage.
  8. Once it has finished the first rise, in the bowl punch the dough out and then I use the fold into the centre of the dough technique again to shape my dough ready for the second rise.
  9. Flour a banneton (if you have one) very generously with flour. Flour the top of the dough as well to help it remove easily before baking. Cover and leave to rise, about 2 hours or so again but it depends on the temperature of the room. It needs to rise by half again according to Dan.
  10. 30 mins before it’s ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees and heat the dutch oven if you’re going to use one.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little semolina or polenta, and sprinkle some more on a circle of baking paper. This tastes nice and gives a nice texture. The paper helps to transfer the loaf from the counter to the dutch oven and out again once it’s finished cooking.
  12. Tip the dough onto the circle of paper and then make slashes into the top. Place in the hot dutch oven and cover. Cook for 20 mins covered. After 20 mins remove the lid and cook for a further 10-20 mins until the loaf is golden, crispy and cooked through.
  13. Leave to cool and then wonder at the marvel of fresh bread created by your own fair hands. Repeat!

Two Ingredient Flat Breads

Dhal, curry and flat bread.

I’ve never made these before but fancied some bread with our curry last night. These are ridiculously simple and were fluffy on the inside.

You need equal quantities of natural yogurt (dairy free works fine) and self raising flour. I used 150g of each which made enough for the three of us. Mix together to form a dough then break off pieces and roll flat on a floured surface, don’t roll them too thin. Heat a griddle pan until hot and dry fry until puffed and light golden. Eat whilst hot.

Cook till puffed.
Light golden brown 😍

Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup (v)

We eat a lot of soup. It’s tasty, nourishing and you can hide all sorts in it. This used up some leftover sweet potatoes and some sad celery as well as delivering a nutritional hit from the red lentils. Freeze some if you have leftovers. It’s a warm and comforting hug in a bowl.

Coconut Vegetable Dhal Soup

For six portions you need:

  • 1 swede, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1-1.5 litres vegetable stock (more or less depending on how thick you want the soup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • Toasted mixed seeds
  • Fresh coriander
  1. Begin by sautéing the vegetables in the oil for 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the lentils and curry powder and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 20 mins.
  4. Blitz the soup with a stick blender, season to taste and serve garnished with the seeds and coriander.

Chocolate Peanut Smoothie (v)

Chocolate banana smoothie

In these uncertain and unsettling times I’m struggling to eat. I’m also hyper aware that I don’t want to waste any food at all. This smoothie delivers a healthy boost of fruit; is easy to drink if you’ve no appetite and uses up some bananas that are too ripe for me to enjoy as they are. You can use whatever ingredients you have to hand. These were in my freezer/cupboard.

For one portion you need

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Handful of frozen black cherries
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • ~200ml soya milk or whatever milk you have to hand.
  1. Put everything into a blender goblet. Blitz till smooth, adding more liquid if you need to. Enjoy.

If you have lots of ripe bananas, peel them and freeze them. If you use frozen banana you will need to add more liquid as it will thicken a lot.

Bangers and Mash with Red Wine Onion Gravy (v)

When it’s your birthday in our house, you can choose what’s for tea. This year I chose bangers and mash as it’s been a grey January so far and I wanted comfort food. But to make it that little bit extra special I made the gravy from scratch. It only takes 20 mins and the results are soooooooo worth it.

For three people you need

  • Vegan sausages (we used Shroomdogs and Linda McCartney sausages)
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Vegan spread – 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetables of your choice
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used my mandolin for consistency)
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp each of soya sauce and mushroom ketchup
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  1. Put the potatoes on to boil. Cook for 17 mins once boiling until tender. Drain and add 1 tbsp spread then mash thoroughly until smooth and creamy. Season to taste.
  2. Heat a large frying pan and add the other 1 tbsp spread. Add the onion and sugar and cook for 10 mins until lightly golden.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and cook out for 2-3 mins. Add the stock, wine, soya sauce and mushroom ketchup and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to thicken. Stir every now and then to prevent lumps.
  4. Cook the sausages – I use my air fryer where they take about 16 mins.
  5. Steam the veg and then serve up and enjoy.

Rainbow Tofu Poke Bowl (v)

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They say you should eat the rainbow, and this bowl is packed full of delicious things to help you achieve that goal! I think it’s also at least four of your five a day in one yummy bowl. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, it’s not complicated to make.

For four portions you need:

Marinated Cucumber in Ginger, Garlic and Mirin

  • 1/2 cucumber, cut in half and de-seeded
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 red chilli, sliced (add more for extra heat)
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander

Crispy Kale

  • 200g fresh kale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt flakes

Crispy Tofu

Avocado with Lime and Ginger

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

Other

  • 225g sushi rice, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • 2 tbsp toasted mixed seeds
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons
  • 1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Remaining lime to garnish
  1. Begin by pressing the tofu. Use a press if you have one and if not, drain the tofu, wrap in a thick tea towel and place on a plate and put a very heavy weight on top of it – I use a cast iron pan and a 4kg kettlebell! Ideally press overnight or for at least an hour.
  2. Cook the sushi rice and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Cut the cucumber into slices about .25cm thick. Place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and set aside to marinate whilst you make the rest of the dish.
  4. Place all the avocado ingredients together in a bowl and leave to one side.
  5. I use my air fryer to cook the kale – simply place everything in the fryer and cook for 5-7 mins until crispy. If you don’t have an air fryer then cook in a single layer in a hot (220 degrees) oven for 8-10 mins.
  6. Cut the tofu into 1cm cubes. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot then fry the tofu, tossing it frequently to ensure even cooking. This will take about 10 mins. Add the poke sauce to the pan and heat briefly. Take off the heat and assemble your bowls. Sprinkle with the seeds and squeeze over the lime. Eat. Feel simultaneously smug and amazed you made something this good!