Sunday, 29 June 2014

Cannellini, Apple and Celery Salad

From The Bean Book, Rose Elliot, Fontana, 1979.
Sometimes the simplest of combinations can make a perfect dish.

I took a can of cannellini beans, rinsed the contents and added them to a bowl. Into this went some finely chopped stalks from the heart of a stick of celery. An apple was peeled and chopped and added. That was it. I added some olive oil to moisten the mixture and the juice of half a lemon to give it a tang. Salt and pepper went in to taste.
The apple and celery gave crunch and sweetness to the comforting beans.
Taste: ✔✔✔ 
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Chole Batura

From The World’s Best Street, Lonely Planet, 2012.
Kneading bread is an activity I enjoy. The pounding of the dough gives a satisfaction like no other cooking method. I had not made batura previously but thought I’d give it a go.

One teaspoon of yeast and a good pinch of ground ginger were mixed together in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons warm water. Now 2 cups flour, a tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons yoghurt and ½ teaspoon salt were mixed together and the yeast mixture added. This should make a dough according to the recipe but I found that a little water had to be added to make the ingredients hold together. Once it had joined well I kneaded it for some 10 minutes and then left it in an oiled bowl for 6 hours.

Meanwhile the chole was made. An onion was chopped and fried in 2 tablespoons ghee until it had softened. Two chopped garlic cloves and about a teaspoon grated ginger were added to the onion with a pinch of salt for a couple of minutes. The recipe now called for 2 peeled and chopped tomatoes to be added, however I felt that the spices should now go in to release their oils before the tomatoes. So, I added a teaspoon of hot chilli powder, a teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ¼ teaspoon garam masala. The mixture was now fried for another 2 minutes and the tomatoes were then included and cooked for another 5 minutes.

A can of drained chickpeas were added with a tablespoon tamarind puree and ½ cup hot water. The mixture was now simmered for about 10 minutes and was then placed aside until the batura was cooked.

After the dough had risen it was beaten down and given another knead. It was now formed into small balls that were rolled out thinly. Oil was heated until very hot and the rolled out discs added one at a time and pressed down to be submerged in the oil. It puffed up reasonably well. I had hoped that it would make purse shapes that could be filled but I didn’t quite achieve that although it was close. The batura was crispy on the outside with soft interiors.
The chole was eaten with it to be, in this case, more scooped up with the bread rather than added into the pockets.
Despite having no bread pockets this was a very satisfying dish. The chole was spicy and hot and the batura a perfect way to scoop it up. It had a lightness and a crispness that was very enjoyable.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔ 
Ease of cooking: ✔✔

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Barbecued Haloumi and Char-grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde

From Quick Vegetarian Dishes, Kurma Dasa, Chakra Press, 2000.
Asparagus with haloumi and salsa verde—I love it.

I first made the salsa. It was simply a matter of finely chopping about ½ cup parsley, ¼ cup mint and ¼ cup basil. These were mixed together with a good tablespoon chopped capers and extra virgin olive oil stirred in until it felt like a goodly sauce. Lemon juice was now added to taste together with salt and pepper and a pinch of asafoetida. My mouth was already watering.

A ridged hot plate was turned on as I prepared the other ingredients. The asparagus and the haloumi were brushed with olive oil and when the hot plate was very hot the asparagus went on. Once this was done the haloumi went on the plate for a quick grill of both sides.
This dish is simple to prepare and so tasty. We had it with an accompanying salad.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔

Monday, 23 June 2014

Indulgent Apple Crumble

From Cook Vegetarian, November 2013.
I don’t know what it is about apples but whenever we buy them to eat we never seem to actually do that. When I eat an apple I thoroughly enjoy it but to actually take one up oddly seems to require an effort of decision that means the fruit is often left in the bowl. So there had been four pink lady apples in the bowl for a couple of weeks. I decided to cook them would be the best way to get them eaten.

The four apples were peeled and sliced thinly and placed in a casserole. In with them went a punnet of strawberries, washed and halved. I took a few pieces of crystallised ginger, sliced it thinly and added that. Next 100g brown sugar was added and the ingredients were all mixed together and added to a casserole dish.
For the crumble topping I mixed in a bowl 100g cubed butter, 200g plain flour and 75g raw sugar. I now grated 100g cheddar cheese and included this. It seemed an unusual ingredient for a crumble topping but, in actual fact, it worked out very well. The ingredients when mixed together were spread over the top of the apple in the casserole. It went into a 190ºC oven for 30 minutes.

After half an hour the casserole was taken out and about a tablespoon honey was drizzled over the topping. It was returned to the oven for another 10 minutes.
I was somewhat disappointed with this casserole. The apple was not entirely cooked while the strawberries had turned into unappetising lumps. The topping, however, was excellent. It’s a recipe I would return to when making other fruit crumbles.
 Taste: ✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cheese Pinwheel Scones

From Commonsense Vegetarian, Murdoch Books, 2011.
There were a few ends of cheeses in the refrigerator so this recipe looked like a good way to use some of them up.

Firstly the scone dough was made. In a bowl I placed 250g flour, a tablespoon baking soda, a good pinch of cayenne pepper. I didn’t sift, though I should have; I just did a tossing type of stir. I then rubbed in 30g cubed butter to make fine breadcrumbs. Milk (180ml) was poured in and mixed until a dough was formed.
As soon as the dough was formed it was rolled out to make a rectangle of about 20 x 25cm. Onto this went a mixture of cheeses: 40g each of crumbled feta, grated parmesan and grated cheddar. Beginning from the longer side this was rolled up into a sausage shape and pressed together tightly. It was now cut into slices about 2cm wide.
An oven tray was prepared with baking paper and the slices placed on it about 2cm apart. This went into a 220ºC oven for about 12 minutes when the scones were golden. They were taken out and, while they were still warm, served.
These were wonderfully savoury and the scone dough had become a little crisp on the outside but remained light on the inside. The next day the remaining scones required a quick burst in the microwave to bring them back a little to their first-baked stage.
Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔