Spicy Pepper and Apple Chutney

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Thoughts are turning towards Christmas. When I was a teenager we started making our Christmas pickles and chutneys in October to give them time to mature. Of course, back then, we ate them with turkey sandwiches or slabs of cheese. Pickles and chutneys go just as well with a cold nut roast. You can make chutneys out of many different fruits and vegetables. I used what was lying around the kitchen. Apples are plentiful and cheap at this time of the year. I only buy the local varieties. We like everything spicy in our house but you can leave out the chilli if you want.

Makes 2 half litre jars

2kg apples chopped

4 medium red or yellow peppers chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

4 small green chillies roughly chopped with seeds left in

375g raw sugar

500ml white wine vinegar

A teaspoon of pickling spices- mixed black peppercorns, coriander and mustard seeds

A piece of cinnamon stick

A teaspoon of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel pan. A wide, shallow pan works best. Bring to the boil. Turn down slightly and keep on a gentle boil for about 50 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the chutney has thickened. Make sure it does not start to burn or stick during the last 10 minutes. It is ready if you push it back with a spoon and it does not run back into the empty space.

To sterilise jars, wash in hot soapy water, and place on a baking tray in a hot oven for about 5 minutes, lids included. Fill jars while the chutney is still hot and seal. Leave for about 6 weeks.

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Eggplant, Chickpea and Mushroom Pilaf with Toasted Almond Flakes

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I keep complaining how hard it is to get really good Indian food in Berlin. Sometimes I need to eat a plate of Indian food that is  vibrant with the complex flavours of fresh, whole spices. That is hard to find here so I have to cook it myself. I like this dish because, although it is rice based, it is light and  not at all stodgy. Use the best basmati rice that you can afford and rinse it well before use then be very careful to cook it lightly as it can turn to mush easily. Both eggplant and mushroom have good, strong texture and hold their flavour well. The toasted almonds add extra flavour and texture. It is really important to use fresh, whole spices, powder is just not the same in this dish.

Ingredients 

Serves 4

1 large onion thinly sliced

Half an eggplant cut int thin half moons

200g mushrooms cut into thick slices

2 medium tomatoes chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, a whole green chili and a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger ground to a pulp

250g basmati rice rinsed

1 tin of chickpeas

1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

1 piece of cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom pods

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of toasted almond flakes or slivers

A large handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions gently in half of the oil until they are dark brown but not burnt. In a separate pan fry the eggplant and mushrooms in the rest of the oil. Toast all of the whole spices in a small dry pan but be careful not to burn them. Then combine them together with the chili, garlic, ginger paste, rice, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, chickpeas and tomatoes in a larger pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the rice and season. Bring slowly to the boil and  cover tightly with some foil before putting on the lid. Turn to a very low simmer until the rice is about two thirds cooked. Do not stir during this time.This will take about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on tight for a further 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and liberally garnish with almonds and coriander.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas and Baked Corn Salsa

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The fresh corn is coming to an end now in Europe but it has been an amazing season. As a more warming dish for the slightly cooler weather, I baked this dish to create Enchiladas and also baked the salsa on top. The enchiladas are filled with a combination of sweet potatoes and red, kidney beans. Sweet potato enchiladas is one of the first vegan dishes I ever created. I have served it to the most fussy and old fashioned meat eaters and everyone has loved it.

Preparation time 20 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the enchiladas

A medium onion finely chopped

A crushed clove of garlic

4 medium fresh tomatoes liquidised

Two chopped red chillies

Two medium, peeled, sweet potatoes cut into 3cm cubes

A tin of red kidney beans

A large red pepper chopped or sliced

A teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin

A teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

A teaspoon of oregano

A handful of fresh coriander

Half a tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Four large tortilla wraps

For the salsa

Two ears of corn roasted in the oven for 15 minutes and corn removed

A large tomato finely chopped

Two chopped spring onions

A red chilli finely chopped

A handful of fresh coriander

Two teaspoons of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and cook the onion, garlic and peppers for about five minutes till soft. Add all of the other ingredients for the enchiladas, except the tortillas. Bring to the boil and turn to a simmer for about 40 minutes. Before filling the tortillas, mash some of the sweet potato with the back of a fork so the fillings a thick consistency.

Share the filling between the four tortillas and roll or fold them for cooking. Place in a large baking dish.

Add all of the salsa ingredients to a bowl and stir together. Season to taste. Spoon evenly across the top of the enchiladas. Place in a medium oven for 10 minutes until the salsa is warm and the tortillas are soft.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Mustard,Cumin and Fennel Seeds

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Brussels sprouts are just coming into season in Europe. I hated these as a child and now cannot get enough of them. We eat huge piles of them in our house all through the season. They are best after the frost has been in them so taste much better in the winter. I could eat them on their own with a pool of gravy any day but it is nice to experiment with other ways to cook them, especially as they are part of the magic Cruciferous vegetable family that are so good for our immunity during the cold months. Apparently these kind of vegetables are better for us if we chop them before eating. Joel Fuhrman explains the science of this in his book Super Immunity.

I served these as a side dish with another more substantial curry but they could be served with just about anything.

Preparation time 5 minutes. Cooking time 10-15 minutes

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

Half a kilo of Brussels sprouts finely sliced

Two shallots finely sliced

A crushed clove of garlic

A medium tomato finely chopped

Half a teaspoon each of toasted cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

Half a tablespoon of oil for sautéing

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic, shallots and seeds. Stir fry for about three minutes until the garlic and shallots are soft. Add the sprouts and tomatoes and continue to stir fry for two minutes until they are coated in the other ingredients. Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook until just soft or leave crunchy if you prefer. Season to taste.

Thick Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Massaman

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Massaman is my favourite South East Asian curry. It should be thick and rich with a slight peanutty flavour. You can get Massaman curry paste in Asian supermarkets. If you cannot get any the use a red or yellow Thai paste and add half a teaspoon of ground cumin and ground coriander. Cauliflowers are really good at the moment and have a good flavour. Cruciferous vegetables are excellent for strong immunity and help us to fight colds over the winter.

 

Preparation time 10 minutes. Cooking time 15-20 minutes

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of Mossamon curry paste

1 cinnamon stick

1 stick of lemon grass crushed a little

A thumbnail sized piece of ginger left whole

Two medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 3cm cubes

A medium cauliflower broken into small florets

A tin of coconut milk

A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground

A large red chilli chopped

A handful of fresh coriander

A few toasted peanuts for garnish

Put the curry paste into a warm pan and toast it for a few seconds before adding half of the coconut milk. Stir till it is all combined. Add the lemon grass, cinnamon and ginger and the fresh chilli to taste. Add in the vegetables and stir to coat with the wet ingredients. Add the rest of the coconut milk, bring to a boil and turn to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and cauliflower are just soft. Stir in the ground peanuts and most of the coriander. Garnish with whole peanuts and coriander.

 

 

Home Grown Mung Bean Sprouts with Stir Fried Noodles and Cashew Nuts

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Sprouting your own beansprouts is really easy. See my post about this. They are so delicious in a stir fry and a great source of protein. As always with nuts, the cashews taste much better if they are toasted first. Broccoli is great for boosting the immune system.

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Serves 4

A head of broccoli chopped

A red pepper chopped

A large clove of garlic crushed

A thumbnail piece of fresh ginger chopped

A leek finely chopped

2 handfuls of toasted cashew nuts

4 handfuls of fresh sprouted mung beans

A tablespoon of light soya sauce

A teaspoon of honey

A finely chopped chilli

A tablespoon of white wine.

A tablespoon of oil for cooking

A teaspoon of sesame oil

300 g of wholewheat noodles cooked.

Heat a large pan or wok until it is very hot and then add the oil and heat until the oil is smoking. Add the vegetables to the oil, together with the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 5 minutes.  Grind one of the handfuls of cashews and add these together with the whole cashews and mung bean sprouts. Now add in the noodles and stir plus a splash of white wine. Add the soya sauce, honey and chill and stir fry for a few more minutes. Add a little water if the pan gets  too dry. Finish with the sesame oil.

Black Bean and Red Pepper Chilli

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I love black beans. They have a soft, silky texture that you don’t get with other beans. I made my first chilli as a student back in the early 80s. Although I have moved away from con carne to sin carne, I still use the same recipe which uses blended tomatoes, oregano, cumin, coriander,sugar and vinegar. It gives a smooth, tangy and sweet sauce. I served this with the Roasted Tomato, Cucumber and Corn Salsa.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes

Ingredients
Serves 3
A large, red pepper, sliced
A small onion finely chopped
A large clove of garlic blended with 4 medium tomatoes and a large green chilli
A teaspoon each of oregano, cumin and ground coriander
A teaspoon of sugar
A teaspoon of vinegar (any kind)
A tablespoon of olive oil
A tin of black beans
A handful, of fresh coriander

Heat the oil and gently soften the onion and pepper. Add all of the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer slowly for about 40 minutes until the sauce is thick and the peppers are melting. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with rice or tortillas.