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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

July, 2012

31Jul 12

Linguine with Roquefort and Walnuts

Linguine with Roquefort and WalnutsPasta, can you imagine what our world would be without it?!  So easy to make and so versatile, it’s virtually everyone in the western world’s go-to dish for spur-of-the-moment meals or fussy children!  In fact, it’s one of the first foods that most children agree to eat without too much complaining.

This linguine with Roquefort and walnuts, surprisingly, is no exception, at least in my own experience with my kids.  I expected the blue cheese and white colour of the sauce to turn them off, but they lapped it right up and even asked for more! (You could also try this pasta with egg yolks and walnuts recipe.)

Of course, my children may not be representative of the national average, so if you want, you can try substituting the Roquefort for another, more kid-friendly cheese.  Any easily melted cheese, such as Manchego or Gruyère should work fine.  If kids aren’t a problem, you can of course go the other way as well and try a stronger cheese like Gorgonzola or Stilton.

 

Linguine with Roquefort and Walnuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 500g dried linguine
  • 4 whole walnuts
  • 300ml double cream
  • 8 tbsp Port
  • 225g Roquefort cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
  2. Add the pasta, give it a stir and cook according to the instructions on the pasta. Start to check it a few minutes before the indicated time to make sure you get it just how you like it. I prefer it al dente, but go ahead and cook it however you prefer.
  3. While the linguine is cooking, shell the walnuts and chop them up very finely. Set aside.
  4. When the pasta is ready, drain it immediately.
  5. Place the double cream, Port and Roquefort in a saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. The cheese should take a few minutes to melt.
  6. Toss the pasta with the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve on plates with the walnuts sprinkled over the top of each serving.

 

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29Jul 12

Fennel and Parsley Salad

Fennel and Parsley SaladAn often forgotten vegetable in many homes, fennel has got to be one of my personal favourite comfort-foods, and this fennel and parsley salad is no exception!  The slight licorice aroma of the fennel bulbs is a truly delightful sensation for the taste buds and stomach alike.  Fennel is known for its soothing effects on the stomach, so I find it’s the perfect thing when you’re not feeling 100%, whether that be due to the flu or an overly excessive night on the town.

If you are looking for a more subtle fennel flavour, try this mushroom risotto recipe.

Some people suggest that fennel should be cooked just until it’s al dente, but I personally strongly disagree with this.  I believe it should be nice and tender, as this is when its true flavour really shines through.  I like to serve this salad on a bed of rocket and topped with some Parmesan cheese shavings, as suggested in the recipe, but you can go ahead and leave this out if you prefer, or substitute it for any other lettuce and cheese combination.  As usual, let your taste-buds be your guide!

 

Fennel and Parsley Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, sprigs and leaves
  • 1tsp minced lemon zest
  • 1tsp minced tangerine zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tbsp fresh tangerine juice
  • 100g rocket lettuce
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, shaved
Instructions
  1. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise, cut out the cores and remove any bruised outer leaves.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the fennel halves crosswise, as thin as you can.
  3. Transfer the fennel to a medium-sized bowl and toss with the parsley, lemon zest, tangerine zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper and the olive oil.
  4. Add the lemon juice and the tangerine juice and toss again.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Arrange a bed of rocket lettuce on each plate and nestle the salad on top.
  7. Place a few shavings of Parmesan cheese on top and serve.

 

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26Jul 12

Couscous Salad

Couscous saladAnother Middle-Eastern inspired dish, this couscous salad is a light yet satisfying little treat.  Let the subtle blend of flavours contained in every mouthful transport you in your imagination to the star-filled sky of the Sahara desert or the shores of the Mediterranean sea. (Also try this rice salad with spinach and avocado.)

The recipe itself is deceptively simple. The only thing you need to be careful about is the roasting of the pine nuts – just one second of distraction, and it can all go wrong before you realise what’s happened!  The recipe suggests toasting the nuts in a pan on the stove-top, but alternatively this can be done in the oven.  Just spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment, bake at around 190ºc for about 5 minutes, shake the tray, and bake another few minutes until they smell nice and nutty.  You still have to be very careful not to burn them though, so don’t let your guard down!

Couscous Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 180g instant couscous
  • 1tsp minced lemon zest
  • 250ml water
  • 2tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • ¾tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 3tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Instructions
  1. Pour the instant couscous into a small baking dish.
  2. Combine the water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Pour the liquid over the couscous and stir lightly.
  4. Cover the dish and set aside for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a small, heavy-bottomed frying pan over low heat.
  6. When the pan is good and hot, add the pine nuts and toast until they start to smell intensely nutty, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  7. Shake the pan frequently while toasting, and be very careful not to burn the nuts, as they will go from perfect to burnt and ruined in a heartbeat.
  8. When they're ready, transfer immediately to a dish to cool.
  9. When the couscous is ready, fluff it up gently with a fork to separate the grains.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the lemon zest and the rest of the ingredients.

 

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23Jul 12

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo
is a typical Mexican garnish, or salsa, traditionally served with fajitas, tacos, burritos, and anything made with flour tortillas.  My recipe is a slight variation on the classic Mexican version which was given to me by a Mexican amigo.

I’ve reduced the number of chilli peppers by half compared to the original recipe, as I found it was almost too hot for my taste (and I like it HOT!), and definitely too hot for most of my friends and family.  If you’re particularly adverse to spicy food, you can go ahead and halve the amount again, or even cut out the jalapeños completely, although this will take away slightly from the authenticity of the dish.   If you’re a fire-eater, you can double it back up again to 4 or more jalapeños.

If you don’t have or can’t get fresh limes, lemons make a decent substitution. It won’t be quite as good, but it’ll work in a pinch.  The same thing goes for the fresh coriander. You could substitute it with fresh Italian parsley (they’re from the same family), but again, it won’t taste quite like it should.  Lastly, if you can’t get fresh jalapeño peppers, you could substitute any other fresh hot peppers.  If none are available, then you should use the dried variety, or dried pepper flakes.

This recipe doesn’t keep very well, so you should try to use it the same day as you make it. Why not try it with my vegetarian burritos?

Pico de Gallo
Author: 
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A typical Mexican garnish
Ingredients
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped (about 450g)
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium-size bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, coriander, jalapeños and lime juice.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. For best results, serve the same day.
  5. Makes about 500ml.

 

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23Jul 12

Spinach and Warm Veggie Salad

Spinach and Warm Veggie SaladThis spinach and warm veggie salad recipe, smothered in a delicious creamy mustard sauce, makes a great starter or side dish for any occasion.  The warm vegetables make a welcome change to a typical cold salad and provide the perfect contrast to the bed of tender fresh spinach leaves.

If you have more of an appetite, you could also try this pita bread with fried vegetables, coriander and ricotta cheese. The extra carbs will give you an energy boost.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 medium-sized red onions
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 110g fresh tender spinach  leaves
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 65ml vegetable stock
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tsp grainy mustard
  • 2tbsp crème fraîche
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of ground coriander

What you have to do:

 

  1. Chop the red onions.
  2. Trim the fennel, wash and cut into eighths lengthwise.
  3. Wash and trim the spinach. Remove the thick stems, and wash thoroughly in cold standing water. Allow to drain thoroughly and transfer to plates.
  4. Wash the lemon with hot water, remove a thin layer of zest, and chop finely. Squeeze out the juice and set aside.
  5. Wash the parsley and finely chop the leaves.
  6. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley leaves over top of the spinach.
  7. Soak the bread in the vegetable stock.
  8.  In a blender, finely purée the bread with the extra virgin olive oil.
  9. Mix in the grainy mustard and crème fraîche and season to taste with 1.5 tablespoons of the lemon juice, along with the salt, pepper, and coriander.
  10. In a wide pot, bring about 5cm of salted water to the boil for the vegetables.
  11. Cover and cook the vegetables 5 minutes, or until they are tender and crisp.
  12. Drain the excess water from the vegetables and arrange them on top of the spinach leaves.
  13. Pour the mustard cream over the salad or mix it all together so that the entire dish is coated with the dressing.
  14. Serve immediately.

 

Preparation Time:  20

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

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19Jul 12

Ful Medammis

Ful MedammisFul medammis is a very typical Egyptian dish made with green fava beans.  In fact, it’s so common that it’s often referred to as the national dish of Egypt.

Although it’s quite simple to make, it does take a bit of time, mostly due to the soaking and cooking of the dried fava beans.  If time is an issue, you can go ahead and use the canned variety; it won’t be quite as yummy or authentic, but it’s more than good enough in a pinch.

The fun thing about this dish is that rather than completely finishing the preparation yourself, you put the different garnishes on the table and let your guests garnish their own however they wish.  This also makes it a lot more fun for kids and a perk for eating their veggies.  Of course, if you prefer, you can mix in the garnishes yourself before serving.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 450g dried fava beans
  • 50g lentils
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 60g fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

 

What you have to do:

 

  1. Soak the fava beans and lentils overnight in abundant water with a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the beans in a large saucepan and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, or until the beans are nice and tender.  Drain the leftover water.
  3. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.
  4. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Drain the excess water from the saucepan and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool.
  7. Peel the cooked eggs, cut them into halves, and set aside.
  8. Serve beans in individual bowls.
  9. Place the eggs, garlic, parsley, lemons, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper on table and allow diners to garnish and season as they like.

 

Preparation Time:  20 minutes plus overnight soaking of the beans

Cooking Time: 1-2 hours

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

Note: The main focus of this dish is the fava beans, but the lentils add a nice touch. For more lentil recipes, try this tangy red daal.

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18Jul 12

Seitan Teriyaki

Seitan Teriyaki
My mum used to make a beef version of this seitan teriyaki when I was growing up, and I have always loved the strong sweet and salty taste of the sauce.  Since fried seitan has quite a similar texture to beef, I decided to have a go at making up a vegetarian version of my childhood favourite.

The one thing taking away from the authenticity of the recipe is my inability to find a decent vegetarian fish sauce.  In the end I decided to just go with regular Tamari sauce, which tastes great, but is obviously missing a bit of the tangy and pungent effect that a fish sauce would have provided.  If anyone knows of, or ever finds a decent vegetarian or vegan fish sauce, please let me know; I’d love to try it.

I also like to sprinkle over sesame seeds for extra crunch, but that is optional. Serve it over rice and veggies for a balanced meal.

Also try these Japanese noodles with bell peppers and beef. And as we do here, replace the meat for seitan.

Seitan Teriyaki
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
The vegetarian version of beef teriyaki
Ingredients
  • 400g seitan, cut into 1cm strips
  • 3 tablespoons oil, for frying
  • For the marinade:
  • 125ml water
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • For the Teriyaki Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake
Instructions
  1. Make the marinade by combining the water, soy sauce, brown sugar and mirin in a large, shallow Tupperware container or a wide and shallow bowl.
  2. Add the seitan strips, mixing well with the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  3. To make the teriyaki sauce, simply add the honey, soy sauce, mirin and sake to a small sauce pan and boil over medium heat until the sauce is glossy and slightly viscous. It should start to acquire a caramelized taste, but be careful not to burn it.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan or wok over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.
  5. Add the marinated seitan strips and sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the seitan turns brown and a bit crispy on the outside.
  6. Pour the Teriyaki into the pan with the seitan and cook for about 30 seconds over medium heat, stirring continuously.
  7. Remove from heat and serve immediately with some rice or noodles, or on its own.

 

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16Jul 12

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean CasseroleThis classic green bean casserole is a delightfully rich and creamy main course and a great way to get your kids to eat their green beans.  It uses rice and cornflour rather than wheat flour, so it can very easily be converted into a gluten-free dish if necessary, simply by using gluten-free soy and Worcestershire sauce.

What you’re going to need:

For the topping:

  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced  in ¼-cm rings
  • 125g cornflour
  • Canola oil (or other light oil) for frying
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the casserole:

  • 60g sweet rice flour
  • 315ml milk (or soy or other milk)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (about 400g) cut green beans
  • 1 can (about 200g) sliced mushrooms, drained

What you have to do:

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Generously grease an ovenproof casserole dish.
  3. Make the onion topping: Dust the onions with cornflour or place both in paper bag and shake thoroughly.
  4. Heat 1-inch of canola oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Fry a few onion rings at a time until they turn golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper immediately.
  5. Stir the sweet rice flour into about 60ml of the milk until smooth. Place this mixture and the rest of the milk in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, celery salt, salt, garlic, and pepper.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  7. Add the green beans, mushrooms, and half of the onion topping and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the greased casserole dish.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack of the preheated oven, or until the casserole is bubbling.
  9. Top the casserole with the rest of the onion topping.
  10. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until onions are hot.
  11.  Serve immediately.

 

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

Note: If getting kids to eat their veggies is a problem, there are tons of ways to “disguise” the flavour – like in this carrot halwa recipe. Why not make the green bean casserole as the main course and the carrot halwa for dessert? You just couldn’t get any healthier!

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13Jul 12

Asparagus in Tofu Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus in Tofu Hollandaise SauceThis asparagus in tofu Hollandaise sauce uses soft tofu instead of double cream and is therefore considerably less fattening than the traditional version.  The tender asparagus drizzled with the rich and creamy sauce make a great starter for any meal and can even be used as a tasty, if somewhat messy, hors d’oeuvre at a party. (Also try these steamed spring vegetables with pine nuts.)

Asparagus is a very healthy vegetable which is high in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C and is also very useful for cleansing your system. So go ahead and eat as much as you like without feeling guilty!

 

What you’re going to need:

For the sauce:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 250g soft silken tofu
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread, or canola oil

For the asparagus:

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 450g asparagus, ends trimmed off

What you have to do:

 

  1. First, prepare the sauce:  Blend the egg yolks, tofu, lemon juice, and xanthan gum in an electric blender for a few minutes, until they get light and fluffy.
  2. Pour the mixture into the top of a double saucepan that sits over, but does not touch, simmering, not boiling, water.
  3. Add the butter, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, adding 1 tablespoon or more of hot water until it easily pours from a spoon.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the salt, mustard, cayenne, and pepper. Keep warm over simmering water while cooking the asparagus, up to about 30 minutes.  (If it starts to separate or thicken too much, add a teaspoon of boiling water and whisk briskly until it easily pours from a spoon.)
  5. While the sauce is simmering in the double saucepan, prepare the asparagus.  Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on their size.
  6. Remove from the water, drain, and pat dry with kitchen towels. Drizzle the sauce over the top of the asparagus and serve immediately.

 

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

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11Jul 12

Crispy Potato Wedges

Crispy Potato WedgesAlthough these crispy potato wedges require several steps to prepare, the wonderfully crunchy end result makes it well worth the effort.  The white rice flour gives them an amazing texture when fried, while the cayenne pepper and other herbs provide a subtle spiciness that just can’t be beat.  They taste great on their own, but for best results, I recommend serving them with a freshly made sour cream and chive dip.

For another recipe with fried potatoes, I suggest these Aloo Bonda Snacks. They are an Indian fried potato ball – definitely worth a try!

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 large potatoes cut in ½ cm wedges
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 70g (½ cup) cornflour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 250g white rice flour
  • Canola oil or peanut oil, for frying
  • Additional salt to taste

What you have to do:

  1. Place the potato wedges in a large microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salt, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the potatoes and toss until the potatoes are thoroughly coated.
  4. Lay a sheet of crumpled non-stick baking  paper over the bowl, and cook on high power for 5 minutes, or until potatoes are almost, but not quite done. Let the potatoes cool slightly.
  5. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornflour, baking soda, egg, and lemon juice, adding water if necessary until you reach a thin consistency.
  6. Place the white rice flour in a second shallow bowl.
  7. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep heavy pot to 185°C.
  8. Dip the potatoes in the rice flour, then in the egg mixture, and then again in the rice flour.
  9. Immediately fry the potatoes in batches until they are browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  10. Add more salt to taste.  Serve the wedges immediately on their own or with your favourite dipping sauce.

 

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

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