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.

Spelt Salad with Broccoli, Walnuts and Pomegranate

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Having developed a recent interest in the macrobiotic diet and its emphasis on whole grains, I am a recent convert to spelt. They call it dinkel in Germany and I think that is a much nicer name, making it sound more whimsical. I actually prefer the spelt raw and soaked for about 24 hours. I add it to stir fries and salads but I know that some people find it irritates their digestive system, so I have cooked it here. I made this really spicy with some great locally grown chillies I bought in a big bunch on the market  in Berlin yesterday but you can leave it out all together if you prefer. This really is a meal in itself and it is delicious. It is chewy and crunchy and sweet and very savoury, all at the same time and, of course, incredibly nutritious. I served it on a bed of baby spinach leaves and we ate it with the soba noodle salad but we are greedy.

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

50g of raw spelt boiled for about 20 minutes until it is still chewy but not hard

A handful of raw broccoli very finely shredded

A handful of finely chopped cucumber

2 large handfuls of fresh coriander chopped

Seeds from half a fresh pomegranate

A large handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven for 10 minutes and roughly chopped

A tablespoon of olive oil

A teaspoon of cider vinegar

The juice of half a small lemon

2 teaspoons of tahina

Half a teaspoon of dijon mustard

A tiny amount of crushed raw garlic

1 large chilli very finely chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all of the fresh ingredients with the spelt in a large bowl. Combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, tahina, mustard, garlic and chilli to make a dressing. Pour dressing onto the salad. Season to taste.

 

 

 

Pomegranate and Tomato Salsa

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There are some very large pomegranates in the supermarkets in Berlin at the moment and they are really juicy. This is deliciously fresh and healthy and works really well served with the eggplant pilaf. We like it spicy in our  house, so bear this in mind! Use the best tomatoes you can find.

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a side dish

The juice and seeds of one large pomegranate

About 15 cherry tomatoes or 3 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

A spring onion chopped very finely

A large green chili very finely chopped

A large handful of fresh coriander finely shopped

A tablespoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the  ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Leave for an hour before eating for the flavours to develop.

Spicy Carrot and Peanut Soup with Coconut Milk

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It started to feel a little autumnal this morning and it was slightly chilly indoors, making me want to eat something warming. This soup has Asian influences but also reminds me of Africa where lots of peanuts are grown. This could be made with pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, all of which would be delicious. As this is a blended soup, you do not have the chop the ingredients small and this saves on preparation time. I used pearl barley to thicken this but you could add red split lentils instead.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium carrot coarsely chopped
Two large shallots coarsely chopped
A clove of garlic chopped
750ml of boiling water
Two vegetable stock cubes
A large handful of pearl barley
100ml coconut milk
A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, shallots, garlic, cumin, chilli, water, barley and stock cubes into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are soft and the barley is cooked. Add the coconut milk, half of the coriander and a dessertspoonful of the ground nuts and cook for a further minute. Blend the soup. Serve in a bowl garnished with more coriander, ground nuts and chilli flakes.

Tofu, Mushroom and Spinach Burritos with Raw Corn Salsa

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Burritos are a really quick midweek meal. I fry the filling in a cast iron pan which retains the heat evenly so you can cook your veg quickly without burning and while retaining their juiciness. You can use peppers, tempeh, other green veg like Pak Choy…just about anything will work. I used oyster mushrooms but any kind will work.

The fresh, corn salsa is my favourite part of this meal. I also love pineapple salsa.

Serves 2
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients
For the filling
Half a packet of tofu cut into small chunks
A medium onion thickly sliced
A large handful of oyster mushrooms left chunky
A large handful of washed spinach leaves sliced
A crushed clove of garlic
Half a teaspoon of ground coriander
Half a teaspoon of ground cumin
Half a teaspoon of ground chilli
A tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa
Two ears of raw, fresh corn
Two medium tomatoes
Two spring onions
Quarter clove of garlic
Two whole red chillies
A handful of fresh coriander
A teaspoon of lemon juice
Salt and per to taste

Heat the oil in a caste iron pan until it is hot. Add the onions and tofu with the garlic and spices. Stir continuously for a few minutes until onion are cooked but not soft. Add mushrooms and spinach. Stir for another two minutes and season.

Meanwhile place all salsa ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Season to taste.

Heat 4 tortillas. When warm fill with the burrito filling, fold and top with the salsa.

Spicy Red Pepper Hummus Filled Jackets and Fresh Corn

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You cannot beat jacket potatoes baked in the oven. The microwave versions really are not the same. I roasted the corn and red pepper at the same time as well as some butternut squash for later to make it worth putting the oven on. Fresh corn is plentiful in Turkish grocery shops in Berlin at the moment. I bought 6 ears for 2 euros.

For this hummus recipe I used half tofu, half chickpeas. It creates a very velvety consistency that you do not get with chickpeas alone.This hummus, corn combination could be put inside a wrap with extra chickpeas and slices of tofu.

Serves 4
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour
Ingredients
4 medium potatoes for baking
A tin of chickpeas
Half a packet of firm tofu
A red pepper
2 ears of fresh corn
1 spring onion
1 small chilli
Half a clove of garlic
A tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of fresh coriander chopped

Prick the potatoes with a fork and place on a tray in the oven with the red pepper and the ear of corn. Remove the corn and pepper after about 15 minutes. To make the hummus, place the chickpeas, tofu, red pepper, garlic, chilli, oil and coriander into the blender. Blend into a smooth paste, shaking the blender and stopping to stir if needed. You can also add a little water to get the mixture moving. Season to taste.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, cut crosses in them and spoon in the hummus. Remove the corn from the cob and sprinkle over the potato. Garnish with a little chopped coriander, spring onion and chilli.

Sweet and Spicy Sicillian Pasta with Cauliflower

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Dishes in Sicily have Arabic influences and many contain that brilliant combination of sweet and spicy flavours. I love the combination of pine nuts and raisins in savoury dishes like spinach and, of course, I also love chilli. I was never keen on the idea of cauliflower or broccoli with pasta until I first cooked this a couple of years ago. It really works. I was lucky enough to find a Romanescu cauliflower in the organic supermarket. It is the green, pointy variety and has a lot of flavour but I have also cooked this with ordinary cauliflower You could try broccoli, although I never have. I used toasted sunflower seeds to replace the pine nuts as they are so much cheaper but they do not taste as food.

Serves 2-3
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
A small cauliflower cut into small florets
3 medium tomatoes finely chopped
A quarter of a large, red onion finely sliced
A large clove of garlic crushed
100ml white wine
A tablespoon of olive oil
A small handful of raisins
A teaspoon of dried oregano
A tablespoon of toasted sunflower seeds
A tablespoon of red vegan pesto
Half a teaspoon of dried red chilli or more of you like
Chopped fresh basil to serve
Salt and pepper to taste
400g of whole wheat pasta twists

Heat the oil and gently fry the onions, garlic and cauliflower until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise. Add the tomatoes, raisins, oregano, wine, chilli and pesto, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is just soft and the sauce is thick. Add the sunflower seeds. Meanwhile cook the pasta. Combine the pasta and sauce and season. Serve with basil to garnish.