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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Meal for 4 people

03Sep 12

Pinoy Style Seitan Curry

Pinoy Style Seitan Curry
This Philippines-inspired Pinoy style seitan curry is a vegetarian variation of  Ginataang Manok, which is chicken cooked in coconut milk.

I’ve substituted the chicken with seitan and added a few more spices to maximise the flavour.  If you have a wheat allergy, or just don’t like seitan for some reason, you can substitute tofu for the seitan.  I’ve tried this, and while I didn’t like the result as much as with the seitan, it was still a very good dish.

Just remember to press the tofu for 15 or 20 minutes before using it. Otherwise, it won’t absorb all the wonderful aromas of the spices.  I’d also recommend using a nice and firm tofu. If not, the results could be a bit mushy.

If you do use seitan, I strongly recommend making it yourself. It’s much cheaper and more satisfying  than buying it at a shop, and you can add appropriate spices directly to the dough to complement your recipe.  You can find my basic seitan recipe here.

 

Pinoy Style Seitan Curry
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A vegetarian variation of Ginataang Manok
Ingredients
  • 800g seitan, cut into thick chunks
  • 1 big potato, washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 5cm length
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp Tamari sauce
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 thumb ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 250ml water
  • 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Fry the potato in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 10 minutes until cooked through and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Fry the seitan in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 mintues, or until brown and crispy on the outside. Set aside.
  3. In the pan where the seitan was fried, sauté the garlic, onion and ginger for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the fried seitan, Tamari sauce, and curry powder.
  5. Add the water and simmer until the seitan is tender, about 5 mintues.
  6. Put in the red bell pepper, celery, and fried potato, then simmer for 5 more minutes
  7. Add the coconut milk and mix well.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.

 

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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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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

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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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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08Jul 12

Grilled Veggie Shish Kebabs

Grilled Veggie Shish KebabsThese grilled veggie shish kebabs make for a great starter for a party or buffet, and they are very quick to prepare as long as you remember to put the veggies in the marinade beforehand, as this is longest part of the preparation.  In fact, the longer they marinate, the better, so you could even get started on that the night before.

Another thing I love about them is that they also turn out great on a barbecue, so I finally have something aside from veggie burgers and sausages to take when I get invited to a barbecue at a meat-eater’s house.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my veggie burgers and all, but it’s nice to have something more for a change.

The recipe uses a Turkish-style marinade, but if you prefer, you can use your favourite marinade of choice.

 

What you’re going to need:

For the marinade:

  • 250ml olive oil
  • 65ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Shish Kebabs:

  • 8 wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • 500 to 800g of any combination of the following ingredients, cut into bite-sized pieces:
    • cauliflower florets
    • cherry tomatoes
    • aubergine
    • firm tofu
    • green, red, or yellow bell peppers
    • mushrooms
    • new potatoes
    • red onion
    • yellow squash
    • courgette

 

What you have to do:

 

  1. Prepare the marinade by combining all ingredients and mixing well to blend. Set aside while you prepare the veggies.
  2. Thread the desired grilling ingredients onto the skewers.
  3. Place the skewers in a long shallow dish and pour the marinade over the top, cover, and marinate for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven to “broil.”
  5. Remove the skewers from the marinade and let any excess liquid drip off.
  6. Broil the skewers for 6 – 12 minutes, turning every few minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through.
  7. Watch carefully, as different ingredients may take different amounts of time to cook.
  8. Remove the skewers from the oven and place them on a serving platter.
  9. Pour any extra marinade over the skewers.
  10. Serve hot.

 

Preparation Time:  30 minutes plus 1-2 hours marinating

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

Note: One of my favourite side dishes at a barbecue is a fancy potato salad like these minty jersey royals with chives and lemon butter. It goes nicely with burgers – both veggie and otherwise!

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05Jul 12

Broccoli in Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Broccoli in Cheddar Cheese SauceAlthough broccoli is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet  due to its high content of calcium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron, it can be quite difficult at times to get your kids to eat it, regardless of how much you threaten them with chores or no dessert!

Luckily, almost all kids love Cheddar cheese, so this broccoli in cheddar cheese sauce may just be the perfect way to finally get them to eat something green and healthy for once.  I know it worked for me when I was a kid!

You can really use any kind of cheese you prefer for this dish, but I find the bright orange colour of the cheddar looks really nice with the dark green of the broccoli and helps make this into an attractive and delicious side dish. (If you prefer a main dish, I recommend this pasta salad with broccoli and bacon – without the bacon, of course!)

What you’re going to need:

  • 315ml milk (or soy or other milk)
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 100g (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese or cheese alternative
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 500g broccoli, cut into 2 to 3 cm florets

 

What you have to do:

 

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together about 65ml of the milk and the cornflour until smooth and lump-free.
  2. Add the rest of the milk and the garlic and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly.
  3.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the cheese. Keep stirring until all the cheese melts.
  4. Add salt and cayenne pepper and taste.  Add more if desired.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and reduce the heat as low as possible in order to keep the sauce warm while the broccoli is cooking.
  6. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the size of the florets.
  7. Remove the broccoli from the water, drain, and pat dry with kitchen towels.
  8. Drizzle the cheese sauce over the cooked broccoli and serve immediately.

 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

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