a soothing broth and vegetable palya in one dish

15th May 2022

The liquid from the cooked dal is used as a soothing broth, while the drained and cooked dal is seasoned into a vibrant green palya. The broth is a soothing treat, with the addition of lemon juice and pepper. If you are feeling slightly under the weather, this broth is heavenly.

tips

  • Toor dal can be found in any Indian supermarket. I use a brand which I buy in Portugal, it is smaller and more polished with a quick cooking time. The toor dal variety purchased from the Indian store takes a much longer time to soften. With this in mind, you may need to experiment and cook the dals separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times, or pre-soak the toor dal and cook together for 30 minutes, adding more water as needed. You don’t want the dal to be mushy, but rather hold its shape.
  • For quick preparation, the vegetables can be added to the simmering dal. I like to cook them separately to keep the vegetables vibrant.

a soothing broth and vegetable palya from one dish

preparation – 40 minutes

palya serves – 3 persons

broth serves – 2 cups

Recipe adapted from ‘Mysore Style Cooking’ by V. Sandhya

ingredients

¼ cup/50g whole moong dal

¼ cup/50g toor dal 

5 cups/1.4 litres water

1 flat tsp fine rock salt

voggarane

1 Tbsp ghee/peanut oil

½ heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ tsp asafoetida

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 fresh red/ green chilli, seeds removed, roughly chopped

8-10 fresh curry leaves

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

1 ½ cups/200g green beans, finely chopped 

¼ cup/50g water, more as needed

1 bunch /50g dill, finely chopped stems and all

2 Tbsp dried/freshly grated coconut

2 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more for the broth

preparation 

1.  Cook the dal: In a pot, place the rinsed moong dal and water, bring to boil, turn down the heat, then simmer rapidly, uncovered for 18 minutes, add the rinsed toor dal and simmer for a further 10 mins, or until they just become soft, but still hold their shape. As mentioned above depending on the variety of toor dal, you may need to cook both dals together for 30 minutes or experiment separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times.

2.  Add salt to taste, then drain the broth from the cooked dals and set both broth and dal aside.

3.  Prepare the voggarane: Heat ghee in a pan, add the mustard seeds; when the seeds start to pop and splutter, add asafoetida, cumin and chilli – fry until fragrant, then add the curry leaves and turmeric – fry few seconds. Add the beans, stir to combine with the spices. Pour in the water and simmer until the beans are cooked and the water has evaporated –  approx 4 – 5 minutes, you may need to add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.

4.  Turn off the heat, add the dill – mix well until combined with the spices and slightly wilted, add the cooked dal, coconut and lemon juice. Stir to combine, taste adding more salt and lemon, then transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with rice and drizzle with ghee.

5. To the remaining broth, add ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, taste adding more salt and lemon, as needed.

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raspberry crumb sourdough muffins (vegan & GF)

15th April 2022

Streusel crumb topping is a wonderful way to elevate any cake or pastry by adding a layer of crunch. I love adding it to muffins, tarts, or any cake. This streusel recipe is from Aran Goyoaga’s new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

The streusel recipe makes much more than you need. Freeze the remaining; Sprinkle it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Freeze the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer the streusel to a ziplock bag or airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. There’s no need to thaw the streusel before baking; sprinkle it frozen on a cake, muffins or tart and bake as directed.

tips

  • *I take my starter (sourdough leaven) from the fridge in the evening, just before bed, and measure out 40g, and then feed it – 100g flour + 100g water. Allow it to sit overnight, by the morning, it may be fully active, or even if it has deflated already or hasn’t quite reached its full potential, no matter. With this starter, I make this raspberry crumb sourdough cake.
  • If you don’t have a sourdough starter, replace it with ½ cup/70g rice flour, and ⅓ cup/80g of water/buttermilk, and increase the baking powder to 1 ½ teaspoon.
  • Important! Let the muffins cool completely. This will allow the crumb to set nicely and not fall apart.
  • If you don’t want to make the streusel topping, omit and sprinkle the top with flaked almonds instead.

raspberry crumb sourdough muffins

Preparation 15 minutes

Baking 30-35 minutes

Makes 12-14 muffins or one pound cake (11 x 25cm loaf pan bake for 50 minutes) 

streusel crumb topping

1 cup/100g almond flour

¾ cup/100g superfine brown rice flour

½ cup/100g light brown sugar

¼ tsp fine rock salt

7 Tbsp/100g cold dairy-free butter or regular butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

cake ingredients

3 Tbsp/22g ground flaxseed + ½ cup/100g hot water (allow to sit for 10 mins as below)

¾ cup/150g light brown sugar

3 Tbsp finely grated orange zest (zest from 3 oranges)

2 Tbsp/50g maple syrup

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/200g sourdough starter

½ cup/110g extra virgin olive oil or neutral-tasting oil

¼ cup/55g orange juice (1 very juicy orange)

1 cup/140g brown rice flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch 

¾ tsp fine rock salt

¾ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

125g fresh raspberries (Toss the raspberries in tapioca flour before adding them to your batter. This will stop them from sinking to the bottom.)

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line your muffin tray with 12 baking cups. (I use these ones)

2. Make the streusel; In a medium bowl, toss together both flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly.  Place in the fridge until ready to use.

3. Make the cake; Into a large bowl, add the flax with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then add sugar, zest, maple syrup, sourdough starter, oil and orange juice – whisk until smooth.

4. In a small bowl measure out the brown rice flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking soda and powder.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until smooth, fold in the raspberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, distributing it evenly among them (they should be full). Generously cover with the streusel to form small domes over the batter, it’s optional to dot with a few extra raspberries. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

I hope that you have a wonderful festive weekend, here are some photos taken in the garden this week.

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date-caramel and carob shortbread squares (V, GF)

4th March 2022

These date-caramel shortbread squares are from Aran Goyoaga new book ‘Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE.’

‘Here, pecan shortbread is topped with date caramel and a thin layer of chocolate, nuts and seeds.  The date caramel is more of a paste than a traditional caramel, but it smells and taste just like the classic, with the benefit of being naturally sweet.’ – Aran Goyoaga 

The changes which were made to the original recipe:

  • Toasting the pecan nuts in the crust
  • Swapping the chocolate for a carob glaze
  • Mixing the toasted nuts and seeds with maple syrup over heat to make them extra sweet and crunchy on top.

date-caramel and carob shortbread squares

(If you don’t have carob pieces, you could use this carob glaze.)

makes 18 squares

preparation 20 mins

baking 25 mins

cooling and setting time 3 hours

date-nut crust

⅔ cup/100g pecans

115g (about 7) plump pitted Medjool dates 

¾ cup/105g superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup/30g tapioca starch

¼ tsp fine rock salt

6 Tbsp/85g cold vegan butter or coconut oil, cut into ½-inch pieces

date caramel

⅓ cup/90g canned full-fat coconut milk

⅓ cup/90g melted virgin coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp fine rock salt

240g (about 13) plump pitted Medjool dates 

carob/chocolate glaze

150g finely chopped unsweetened carob or chocolate pieces (70%)

1 tsp coconut oil

nut topping

½ cup + 2 Tbsp/60g toasted pecans, pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)

preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the pecans in one pan, and the topping mix of pecans and pistachios in another pan, and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, grease the inside of an 8-inch square pan with coconut oil and line with baking paper, letting some hang over thes sides. Set aside. 

2. To make the date-nut crust, combine the pecans, dates, brown rice flour, nuts, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor and pulse ten times until the dates and nuts are pulverized. Add the butter and pulse 5 times, until the dough becomes a dry crumble, and sticks together when pressed. If it feels dry, add a tsp of ice cold water.

3. Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure it is evenly spread. *Use an extra square piece of baking paper to place over the top, run a flat bottomed cup over to even out. Use the edges of the baking paper, to fold over and run your finger along to create level sides and corners.

4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden. Remove, and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the layers.

5. To make the date caramel, in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and dates. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

6. Let the dates steep in the coconut milk for 10 minutes, then purree in a food processor. Be patient- it will take 3 – 5 minutes to puree to a fine and creamy texture. Scrape the date caramel onto the cooled crust and spread evenly. See above*.

7. To make the carob glaze, in a medium heatproof bowl, add the carob/chocolate pieces and coconut oil. Fill a small saucepan with one-quarter full with water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl on top and stir until melted. Pour over the date caramel and spread evenly.

8. To make the nut topping, oven medium heat, place the toasted nuts and sesame seeds in a small pan, add the maple syrup and stir until all are coated and maple syrup is absorbed, 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

9. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds, rose petals over the top of the carob. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the carob and caramel hardens. This is important, otherwise it will be difficult to cut.

10. Lift the shortbread from the pan using the baking paper, and cut it lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, then cut each piece into quarters. See below for cutting tips. Once cut, store them in the refrigerator.

notes

  • Leftover coconut milk can be measured in seperate 90g bags and frozen for future use!

tips for cutting 

  • Make sure the shortbread have been refrigerated for at least 2 hours and the carob and caramel has fully hardened. Otherwise, the middle will collaspe when cutting.
  • Use a ruler for the most precise results, measure the squares with a ruler and use the tip of a knife to make small marks where you’ll slice. 
  • A chef’s knife is the best tool for slicing. Before you cut, dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel, or coat the blade with cooking spray and wipe it clean with a paper towel, before making each cut. Repeat this process between slices.
  • When it’s time to cut, press the blade of the knife down firmly, and then drag it back in a single motion. 
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roasted cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

25th February 2022

In the late Autumn, I planted a bed of cabbages, placing them about 40cm apart; in between I planted a variety of lettuce seedlings. By the time the lettuce was ready to be picked, the cabbages were just beginning to spread out and to require more room. The ground that once nourished the lettuce began to nourish the cabbages. It’s a great way to use the space efficiently. 

I also planted a bed of coriander and now have lots of lush leafy leaves – perfect for this herby green sauce.

The sauce can be used on just about anything and gives this plain old cabbage a lift. You can swap the coriander and mint for dill or parsley.

  • Green cabbage is best for this dish. When buying the cabbage heads, make sure they are fresh and crisp. Look for cabbages that are tight and compact with few loose leaves, and feel heavy for their size.
  • Don’t skip the oil. This step is important because the oil helps the cabbage become tender. Remember to oil both sides and to flip the cabbage pieces. In doing this you will get an even distribution of texture.

roasted cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

Recipe inspired from here which also has a short video to see the process.

ingredients

1 head cabbage

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

herby coriander goodness

¼ cup/35g pine nuts, or nuts or seeds of choice

1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted

¼ cup/50g olive oil

1 bunch/40g fresh coriander

½ bunch/20g mint leaves

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp sweet white miso

½ tsp fine rock salt

freshly ground pepper

preparation

1. Preheat the oven 200C/400F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

2. Cut the stem off the cabbage head and remove any loose outer leaves and then slice into 2 cm discs. You should have about 5 discs. Place the cabbage rounds on the baking tray, allowing space between each one to allow even cooking.

3. Lightly brush with olive oil. Flip over and repeat. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until the cabbage center is tender and the edges are crisp. Serve hot from the oven.

4. While the cabbage rounds are baking, make the sauce: Toast the pinenuts and coriander seeds until golden and fragrant.  Place all the sauce ingredients into a blender and grind until smooth. Brush, drizzle or spoon the sauce over the cabbage rounds.

Serve

  • With other grains. Brown rice, white basmati, millet and barley are just a few of the options. I especially love it with this saffron rice or lemon rice.
  • With pasta. Enjoy alongside your favourite pasta and fold this herby coriander goodness sauce through the pasta.
  • Alongside any creamy dal or spicy rasam.
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how to make an avocado rose

23rd January 2022

These avocado roses may look difficult, but it is only a few simple steps. I like to use them when I need a simple, but impressive salad on the table. Sometimes I thinly slice fennel or cucumber, add a few small bitter leaves from the garden, a few cubes of feta and place a few of these avocado roses on top with a squeeze of lemon to keep it nice and bright, a few rounds of salt, pepper, a sprinkle of za’atar, lemon zest and toasted seeds and you have a glorious salad to accompany your other dishes.

note

  • Use an avocado that is not too ripe, otherwise it will be soft and squishy but it needs to be firm enough that the skin peels away easily.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice to keep avocado from changing colour.
  • Here’s a easy how to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGu9EcNu2Q

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how to make an avocado rose

ingredients

1 ripe and firm medium avocado

preparation

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit by using the knife to pierce the seed with a good amount of force. The seed should easily lift out with a wiggle or two.

2. Remove the skin. If the avocado is a good balance of not too ripe and not too firm, the skin should lift up easily.

3. Slice across. Lay the avocado halves flat side down, and make thin slices across the avocado, repeating down the entire fruit from end-to-end. Aim for each piece to be between 2-3 mm thick.

4. Fan the slices out. Keeping the pieces touching each other, gently move the slices diagonal until the slices form a thin line.

5. Roll into a spiral. Start curling the fruit inwards on itself at one end. Continue rolling the slices until your avocado flower begins to take shape. Ensure it is neatly twisted around itself in a compact circle.

6. Douse the avocado rose in lemon or lime juice. As the avocado sits in the open air, it oxidizes and develops brown spots. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent this from happening until you are ready to eat it.

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orange saffron cake (GF & vegan)

19th December 2021

This Orange Saffron Cake is slightly adapted from Aran Goyoaga new book Cannelle et Vanille BAKES SIMPLE. I baked it for a special treat to serve at our end of year Sadvidya meeting and it was a true treat! It is incredibly moist, with a deeply fragrant orange flavour, and the saffron gives it a hint of earthiness. I made it vegan by replacing the 2 eggs with a flaxseed mixture and increasing baking powder.

NOTES

  • It’s important that the flaxseeds are ground as finely as possible so that they can absorb water well.
  • Use a superfine brown rice flour, I use this brand of flour for all my baking.
  • Orange-flower water, or agua de azahar, as it is called in Spanish, can be found in speciality and middle eastern markets. I actually did not use it in this recipe, as I didn’t have it on hand in my pantry. Even without it, it was incredibly fragrant.
  • This cake is very delicate, so handle gently and allow the cake to cool completely and for the crumb to set. 
  • The vegan cream can be replaced with regular cream – folding in the icing sugar and vanilla after whipping.

orange saffron cake (Aran Goyoaga)

Preparation 15 minutes

Baking 40-45 minutes

Assemblling 2-3 hours for the cream thicken, and cake to cool completely.

Makes one 8-inch layer cake

ingredients

3 Tbsp/18g ground flaxseed + 6 Tbsp/60g hot water (allow to sit for 10 mins as below)

½ cup/110g warm oat milk

⅛ tsp saffron threads

¾ cup/150g blond sugar

2 Tbsp finely grated orange zest (zest from 2 oranges), plus more for garnishing

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tbsp orange-flower water (optional)

½ cup/110g extra virgin olive oil 

1 cup/140g brown rice flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

¾ tsp fine rock salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup/35g sliced almonds

powdered sugar, for dusting

cream

cup/60g vegan/regular butter (softened to room temperature)

1 tub (200g) Vegan Violife Cream Cheese, (available from Celeiro – out of the fridge for an hour)

cup/40g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthways and seeds scraped out)

preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Generously oil the inside of a 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.

2. Into a large bowl, add the flaxseed with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

3. Combine the milk and saffron in a small pan and warm over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not boil. Remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes, then add to the flaxseed mixture.

4.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. Rub the mixture between your fingers so the zest releases its natural oils and becomes fragrant. Whisk into the flaxseed mixture along with the orange juice, orange-flower water (if using), and olive oil – whisk until smooth.

5. In a small bowl, combine the brown rice flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and whisk until well incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkled over the sliced almonds.

6. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, 3 – 4 hours is ideal.

7. Meanwhile make the cream: Beat together the butter with a hand mixer until soft. Add the violife cream cheese and beat again until well mixed (don’t overmix.) Sift over icing sugar and add the vanilla extract – beat again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – 2 hours. 

8. Place the cake on a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half crosswise. I press one hand on the top center of the cake and cut with the other hand as you turn the cake, which helps in even cutting. The cake is delicate, so be gentle.

9. Spread the cream over the bottom cake layer. Place the top layer on the cream, sprinkle with orange zest and dust the cake with powdered sugar. 

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tahini sauce (tehina Shir style)

8th October 2021

Preparing tahini in this way brings back memories of Israel. We lived in Israel for 14 years, and both of my children were born there.

My favourite part of the week was/and is Friday Night, which we call Erev Shabat in Hebrew. Stores would close early, and people would make their way home. Leaving the streets quiet. There would always be good smells coming from the neighbour’s houses. On Friday night, no one would dine alone, and everyone’s house was open to an unexpected guest. In yogic philosophy, our teacher Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois has explained that the unexpected guest is the best of all guests you can serve and honour with food.

It was a special time for family members to come together after a busy working week. Challah would be bought, candles lit and blessed, and usually, a bowl of tahini would be on the table!

tahini sauce (tehina shir style)

Inspired by Shir.

ingredients

½ cup/115g tahini  (I prefer the hulled traditional tahini)

2 Tbsp/25g lemon juice

¼ tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp honey – optional

¾ cup/150g water

to garnish

1 large tomato, grated 

sweet paprika

olive oil

parsley

preparation

1.  In a small bowl combine the tahini, lemon juice, salt and honey.  Slowly whisk through the water until you have a consistency that is pourable, adding extra water if you need. 

2.  Taste, add lemon or salt if needed.

3. Cut the tomato in half, and grate each half on a medium grater directly into the tahini. Grate until all the pulp and juices are out and you’re just left with the peel, which you discard.

4. Garnish with paprika, parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve the tehina with a crunchy rice pilaf or your favourite salad, steamed or roasted vegetables, or as a dip.

 

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easy basil dressing

6th August 2021

I printed this recipe in 2017 when I came across it in the Globe and Mail published by Tara O’brady and have been making all sorts of variations since. Using fewer tomatoes or none at all, and adding bitter green leaves, or cutting the zucchinis into thick slabs and grilling until slightly charred, rather than eating raw. The dressing I keep the same as it is a gem! However, keeping in mind if the garden is overgrown with dill, coriander, mint or similar soft herbs, they can be added into the dressing as well or instead.

I always like to make my salads with beautiful seasonal greens, herbs and edible flowers picked straight from the garden. Different lettuces impart different flavours, and the best salads mix up two or three. Because this dressing is lively, it is better to pair it with hardier and spicy greens; like arugula, rocket, mizuna, endive or baby kale. 

easy basil dressing 

serves 2 – 3

for the dressing

¾ cup/30g basil leaves

¼ cup/10g flat-leafed parsley

juice from half a lemon – approx 2 Tbsp

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 – 2 Tbsp honey or sugar

3 Tbsp olive oil

pinch dried chilli flakes

for the salad

2 slices rustic French bread, torn into pieces

2 Tbsp/20g olive oil, plus more as needed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

half lemon, preferably organic, well scrubbed

3 – 4 handful of washed green leaves – arugula, rocket, little gem, mizuna, etc (try to combine a variety of different leaves while balancing the more bitter ones with crisp and tender leaves.)

1 small/120g zucchini, sliced into thin rounds (the small zucchinis have the best flavour)

3 Tbsp toasted, roughly chopped pinenuts and pumpkin seeds

preparation

1. Make the dressing by squeezing the juice of half the lemon into a small blender. Add the basil and parsley, then add a splash of vinegar, sugar and olive oil—season with salt and pepper, then puree. Taste, adjust seasoning and balance with more oil or vinegar as called for, and sweeten with sugar or honey if it’s too sharp. Run the machine again, then add a pinch of chilli flakes.

for the salad

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.

2. Toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of olive oil—season with salt and pepper. Scatter pieces on a small baking sheet.

3. Slice the half lemon into thin rounds, removing any seeds; if you have a mandoline (or patience), slice about 3-mm thick (1/8-inch.) Coat lightly with olive oil and arrange on another small baking pan. 

4. Place both baking pans in the hot oven. Toast the bread until golden and crisp, 15 – 20 minutes, tossing once. Roast the lemon until touched with char and deeply caramelized, 12 – 15 minutes. 

5. Arrange the salad, place the leaves and zucchini, followed by the croutons, roasted lemon slices and seeds. Top with dressing, offering more at the table.

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rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

23rd July 2021

I posted a similar pilaf recipe a while back; this version is easier, quicker and uses the option of olive oil, or if you prefer, replace it with ghee. I change the vegetables to what I have in the garden, sometimes using thinly sliced potatoes, fennel, zucchini or freshly picked sweet peas. It is easy to swap the vegetables around. If the season or garden is overgrown with parsley, coriander or similar soft herbs, they can be used instead.

Serve with a crisp garden green salad and a bowl of tahini.

There are a few steps in achieving the success of this dish; the crispy golden bottom makes it worth it!

  • Washing the rice to rid it of any surface starch, which might make it sticky.
  • Boiling the rice for 8 minutes in boiling water, then draining and allowing it to steam dry for a few minutes.
  • Cover with a cloth, as well as a lid, to protect it from the drops of condensation as it steams.
  • Achieving “the golden crusty bottom” at the bottom of the pot by cooking it over low heat for an extended period.

It is recommended to use a non-stick pot. For the recipe, I use a cast-iron 10-inch (24cm) pot. Also, try to use a pot with a flat bottom and one large enough to give the rice plenty of room to expand. If your pot is too small, the rice will clump together. If you are using a pan, make sure you have a lid that will tightly fit.

rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

Serves 3

Preparation 20 minutes

Cooking 45 minutes

ingredients

1 cup/200g white basmati rice

1 medium/140g carrot

1 medium/160g medium fennel

2 medium/125g potatoes

1 large bunch/30g each fresh dill and coriander

6 Tbsp/60g olive oil or ghee – divided 

1 tsp fine rock salt – divided 

½ tsp freshly ground pepper – divided 

1 tsp turmeric powder – divided 

prepare the rice

1.  Wash the rice and drain. Repeat three more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Drain and set aside.

2.  Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits.) Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 8 minutes, starting the timer from the moment the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes or so to steam dry.

prepare the vegetables and herbs

3.  Finely slice the vegetable into 2mm thick slices and set aside. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of the herbs, and mix the herbs together and set aside. 

assemble and cook the pilaf 

4.  Return the empty pan to the stove, add half of the oil.

5.  Split the pile of herbs in two – setting aside a handful of herbs for garnish.

6.  Layer half of the vegetables in the bottom of the pan and half of the herbs for use now.  Sprinkle over half of the salt, pepper and turmeric. Add one-third of the rice over the top. Do not mix. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, then the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Sprinkle the remaining salt, pepper and turmeric. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top.

7.  Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so that they don’t catch fire. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes (#7 setting on an electric stove), then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage (#2 setting on an electric stove) and continue cooking for another 40-45 minutes.

8.  When the rice is ready, gently mix the reserved herbs and pile it all onto a good wide platter or bowl. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious. It is optional to sprinkle with lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice – taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper. 

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carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting (vegan)

9th June 2021

I had my sights on a go-to celebration carrot cake that is walnut-studded and carrot-flecked, fragrant, moist and lavish with a decadent frosting.  So I revisited and reposted a recipe that was created a few years back and made a few adjustments. 

Variations can be found at the end of recipe!

This cake uses walnuts for crunch and flavour, with a lovely warmth coming through in the cardamom and cinnamon. The cake itself is deliciously moist and it is topped with a vegan cream cheese frosting and decorated with edible flowers. 

carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting

Inspired by the much-loved Spice Cake from The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.

Makes one 9-inch cake or 12 cupcakes (Reduce baking time to 35 minutes)

The cardamom adds a rich warmth, so it is important to grind your own as the taste is much more fragrant, fresher and more flavour intense. 

ingredients 

1 cup/100g walnuts – divided

1 cup/120g whole-wheat flour

1 cup/120g unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon powder 

½ cup/110g neutral-tasting oil or mild-tasting olive oil

cup/190g maple syrup (can replace with cup/100g brown sugar)

¼ cup/45g brown sugar or coconut sugar

cup/160g almond/oat milk

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup/50g golden raisins/dates, roughly chopped

2 cups/180g grated carrots (approx 2 medium)

cream cheese frosting

cup/60g vegan/regular butter (softened to room temperature)

1 tub (200g) Vegan Violife Cream Cheese, (available from Celeiro – out of the fridge for an hour)

cup/40g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthways and seeds scraped out)

prepare the cake 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Oil a 9-inch springform pan with oil.

2.  Toast the walnuts: place them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove half of the whole walnuts for garnishing on top (approx 23 pieces) and roughly chop the remaining (50g) to add to the cake batter – set aside.

3.  Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients –  flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to combine.

4.  In another medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients – oil, maple syrup, sugar, almond milk and vinegar. Whisk until the wet ingredients are emulsified. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, whisking together just until all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Stir in the walnuts, sultanas, grated carrot- fold gently with a spatula to combine.

5.  Pour the batter into the oiled pan and bake for about 45 – 55 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s getting dark, but the inside needs more time, cover loosely with aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

6.  Prepare the frosting: Beat together the butter with a hand mixer until soft. Add the cream cheese and beat again until well mixed (*don’t overmix.) Sift over icing sugar and add the vanilla extract – beat again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. *If for some reason the mixture starts to seperate from over beating. Place it in the blender, and blend until smooth, then place in the fridge for a few hours.

7.  When the cake is completely cool, flip the cake over so that the top is now the bottom and spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Decorate the cake with the remaining walnuts and edible flowers.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variation

  • To make a crumble topping instead of using frosting, sprinkle the top and sides with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and add a quarter of the the chopped roasted walnuts to the cake dough and with the remaining make a crumble topping by adding 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 1 Tbsp maple syrup to the walnuts, stir to combine. Spoon over the top of the dough before baking.(See image below)
  • Sprinkle the sides and bottom of the greased cake tin with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds before baking.
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