GROWER’S PIE

I’ve made variations of a vegetarian shepherd’s pie for a long time now. The kids loved the idea of a shepherd’s pie albeit vegetarian. I have modified the recipe over the years and this version is filling, satisfying and absolutely scrumptious even though I say so myself. I also stopped calling it shepherd’s pie and started calling it grower’s pie to reflect the meatless nature of this pie.

Grower’s pie

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

400g tin of lentils

400g tin of beluga lentils

400g tin of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and mashed

200g onion, finely chopped

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MATTAR PANEER – PEAS & PANEER IN TOMATO SAUCE

Back in the day, I used to make my own paneer (it kind of resembles and tastes like ricotta) and it used to be quite the ritual of weighing the paneer down overnight with a tower of cans. Now like everyone else, I use store bought paneer.

Paneer is versatile because it absorbs the flavours of whatever sauce you are using. Mattar is peas in Hindi so this dish is peas with paneer in a thick tomato sauce. It is really nice with rotis, puris or any flatbread.

Mattar Paneer

INGREDIENTS

300g paneer

450g peas (frozen is fine)

150g onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons ghee

5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

2-3 plump cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½-1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin seed powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

60ml cream

Salt to taste

For the sauce

100g onion, chopped

100g carrot, peeled and chopped

300g tinned tomatoes

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon oil

METHOD

To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a small saucepan. Fry the onions and carrots for 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and 200ml water. Let it come up to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Once cool enough blitz in a food processor or a stick blender. Set aside.

Heat the ghee in a kadai or sauté pan. Fry the onions on low heat for 12-15 minutes until they are pale brown.

Pound the ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Toss this paste into the onions and continue frying for 2-3 minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, and cumin and coriander powders. Keep frying and when it starts sticking to the bottom of pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Fry the spice off for a couple of minutes.

Tip the sauce into the kadai and season with salt. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cut the paneer block into 16-20 pieces. Soak in warm water.

Soak frozen peas in water and change the water a couple of times. This way when you add to the sauce, they will retain their bright green colour.

At the end of cooking time, add the peas and paneer. Cook for a couple of minutes before stirring in the cream. Continue on the heat for a further minute or so.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. Serves 6.

SPICY SOUP WITH CHICK PEAS & PUY LENTILS

You might think chick peas and Puy lentils as an unusual combination to say the least, and throw in bulgur to the mix. I assure you it works well and makes a very hearty meal.

Spicy soup with chick peas and Puy lentils

I make stock at home and of late been adding coriander stems as well as leek tops and the stock is just bursting with flavour. I do recommend making your own stock at home as it is so much more flavourful plus no nasties in the ingredients list! I mention here because your soup is only as good as the stock you use!

INGREDIENTS

75g Puy lentils rinsed

400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed

100g onions, finely diced

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g carrots, cut into a 1cm dice

100g celery, sliced thin

1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder

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CAULIFLOWER FRITTERS

During lockdown, my daughter started her sourdough project and after a few trials and errors, her sourdough starter has been going strong now for a few months now. There is a regular stream of discard that comes with keeping a sourdough starter alive. This is not my own recipe but came across it in a Miele newsletter – I forgot to take note of the author!

These fritters are delicious – I served them for breakfast with some lemony Greek style yoghurt.

Cauliflower fritters

INGREDIENTS

1/2 head of cauliflower (about 400g)

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 eggs

220 ml milk

60 grams melted butter

180 grams flour

5 grams baking powder

2 grams salt

5 grams sugar

80 grams starter

To serve:

Grated zest from one small lemon

Coriander leaves

150ml Greek style yoghurt

METHOD

Chop cauliflower into small florets and cook in a fry pan with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil until a rich coffee colour is evenly achieved.

 Measure all dry ingredients straight into a large bowl.

Add milk and melted butter and mix straight away to avoid lumps. Then add starter, followed by eggs and mix until just combined.

Fold through the cooked cauliflower and curry powder.

Pan fry this batter in small batches on a pre heated non-stick skillet and serve straight away piping hot.

To serve: Place a sprig of coriander in between the fritters and top with Greek style yoghurt. Sprinkle the zest.

Makes 12 fritters

CREAMY LEEK & FENNEL SOUP

I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that I like to incorporate some protein element to my dishes to keep them nutritionally balanced. The logic is that if this is the only thing you are going to eat for that meal, you will feel satisfied and fuller for longer because of the fibre, protein and low glycaemic index of vegetables. Fennel is a versatile vegetable and you should try if you haven’t tried it before. You can roast it with beetroot for a roast salad or finely slice for a crisp coleslaw or is great in soup. Fennel also goes well with tomato and any white beans – you can make a soup out of tomato, fennel and cannellini beans.

Creamy leek and fennel soup

My recipe uses your pantry staple lentils, leek and fennel. The trick to washing leeks well is to cut them in half longitudinal and wash the layers with running water. Fennel the vegetable is mild but it lets you know that it has been used. It is not in your face flavour but in the same token it is creamy when cooked and does take on more flavours. Do give this soup a try because every time I make it, the bowls are licked clean and it is a no fuss recipe with few ingredients!

INGREDIENTS

1 leek, sliced thinly into half moons

1 large fennel or 2 medium sized (about 750g), chopped

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CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

I know this is very retro – I loved mushroom soup in the ‘90s and now too. It is a lovely soup for a cold night or served with crusty bread, makes a great starter for your dinner party.

The flavour for this soup is enhanced by mushroom powder. I make mushroom powder by blitzing dried shitake mushrooms in a small spice blender. The mushroom powder is not limited to this soup – I use it to inject flavour into pies and pasta sauces.

Cream of mushroom soup

INGREDIENTS

60g butter

100g onion, finely chopped

3 garlic, finely chopped

800g white button mushrooms, any black bits brushed off

1 heaped tablespoon mushroom powder

750ml good quality vegetable stock

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MUSTARD BROCCOLI on CAULI MUSTARD

There is no typo here!! If you love mustard flavour as much as my family does, this is the ultimate taste explosion. Broccoli belongs to the mustard family (Brassica or Cruciferae) and so does cauliflower – initially thought it would not be balanced but let me reassure you that this was an instant hit and it’ll become your favourite way to serve. I used mustard oil – very distinct aroma of mustard and you can get in any Indian store. This recipe uses mustard oil, wholegrain mustard and hot English mustard plus broccoli and cauliflower.

I served this as a vegetarian first course / starter. Please do try as you will not be disappointed.

Mustard broccoli with cauli mustard

INGREDIENTS FOR MUSTARD BROCCOLI

1 head of broccoli, halved

100g Greek style natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

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CAULIFLOWER CORN BREAD

I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake recipe and wanted to create my own gluten free version. It is in between a cake and a bread and because of its savoury nature I called mine a bread but the jury is out! What do you think – is it a cake or a bread?

It is a lovely dish to take to a potluck meal or if you are having a large group for a barbecue. There is a long list of ingredients, but let it not put you off because it comes together easily.

Cauliflower corn bread with pickled daikon and tomato chilli jam

INGREDIENTS

1 large cauliflower, weighing about a kilo, stalks removed

100g onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

50g coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped

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EGGPLANT MILANESE

A few weeks back Eva Longoria posted her take on Bobby Flay’s recipe of Eggplant Milanese. I had to put my own signature on the dish and the result is spectacular even though I say so myself. There is textural as well as taste contrast and I would make it again in a heartbeat. Milanese style is a fancier way of saying crumbed!

My tip choose even shaped eggplants – shouldn’t be too narrow around the neck and bulbous at the bottom. You can cut eggplants lengthwise but I prefer the rounds.

Eggplant Milanese

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants, cut into ½ to 1 cm thick rounds

½ cup plain flour

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1½ cups Panko breadcrumbs

Canola oil for pan frying

For the lemon yoghurt dressing

½ cup plain unsweetened Greek style yoghurt

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

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FRENCH ONION SOUP – VEGETARIAN

I have to make a confession – I did not want to mess with a classic. It is a favourite in our household and my son will order it whenever we dine out during winter. Due to COVID restrictions my son missed out on his graduation ceremony. So I made the vegetarian version for his graduation celebratory dinner (French themed) we had at home a few weeks back.

Traditionally made with a robust beef stock, I struggled to find something that would offer the same richness and depth of flavour. A few experiments later, I came up with this winning formula for a robust vegetarian stock.

You cannot whip up French onion soup in the space of half an hour. Please allow yourself plenty of time so you don’t rush the slow caramelisation of onions.

French Onion Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1.2kg onions, finely sliced

3-4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

500ml dry white wine (Riesling)

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