Friday, 16 January 2015

Polenta & Pumpkin Mash

Mash is a wonderful comfort food, it speaks of curling up with a blanket on the couch and watching DVDs. Or lazy summer days when you're too lazy to want to chew food properly :) Potatoes are the classic option; I used to cook up a big bowl of mashed potato and smother it with gravy whenever I had an evening alone and just me to cook for. Sometimes I'd add some veggie sausages and peas, but often I'd just go with the big bowl of mash and gravy.

I love potato mash, but it's nice to mix it up and sometimes make your mash a but more nutrient rich! There are plenty of alternatives, and I love them all - parsnip, pumpkin, cauliflower, celeriac, swede, carrot, sweet potato - or a big amalgamation of all of them. You don't really need recipes for those though, it's not hard to figure out mash :)

This one is a little bit special, actually quite a lot special. In fact, it may be the best mash I've ever eaten.

Polenta & Pumpkin Mash

500g chopped pumpkin (skin removed)
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups polenta
Salt and pepper to taste

To Make
1. Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the pumpkin and simmer, covered, until the pumpkin is very soft (about 15 minutes, unless you have chopped your pumpkin big in which case longer).
2. Mash up the pumpkin in the stock (or you can blend the whole lot of it if you like it very finely puréed). Check the water level and replenish it with extra stock if it has boiled down significantly while you were cooking the pumpkin.
3. Place the pan over a low heat and add the polenta, stirring as you do. Stir continuously over a low heat until the polenta absorbs all the liquid and becomes fairly thick and then remove from the heat. Taste test to make sure it is cooked, if it is grainy, add a little more hot vegetable stock and stir until it is absorbed.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper (or even a dollop of vegan margarine if you're so inclined).

Serves 4 as a side.

NOTES - There can be variations in quantities due to the water content of the pumpkin you use and how much liquid evaporates while you're cooking it. If the polenta is too runny and sloppy, you may need to add more polenta to soak it up. If it is too dry and the polenta is undercooked and grainy, add a bit more hot vegetable stock until you get it just right.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Onion Bhaji

Somtimes I get real cravings for onion bhaji, they're a such a treat in my book. I don't eat a lot of deep fried foods but you have to make some exceptions for things like these. The chickpea flour is really important for getting the right flavour, but if you can't get any you can substitute other flours. If you can though, try and use chickpea flour or they just won't be the same.

Onion Bhaji

6 tbsp chickpea flour
6 tbsp self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tbsp peanut oil*
2/3 cup ice water
2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Peanut oil*, for frying 

*If you have allergies, substitute vegetable oil

To Make
1. Combine the flours, salt and spices in a bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the oil and then gradually add the iced water, whisking constantly. 
2. Add the sliced onions and crushed garlic and fold through until the onion is completely coated in the batter. Let it all rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Heat plenty of oil in a saucepan or wok. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a tiny amount of batter. If it floats to the surface the oil is hot enough, if it sinks to the bottom of the oil then it's not there yet.
4. When the oil is hot, add large tablespoons of batter to the oil and deep fry until just golden. This should take 4-5 minutes and  you'll need to flip them over after the first two minutes. Once cooked, remove and drain on a wire rack or on crumpled paper towel to drain as much oil off as possible. 
5. Fry the fritters in batches until you have used up all the batter. Eat hot! 

NOTE- These are best freshly cooked straight from the pan but can also be made in advance and kept warm (or even reheated) in the oven. 

Makes approximately 20 onion bhaji (this will vary depending on how big your spoonfuls are).

Thursday, 1 January 2015

10 Most Popular Posts of 2014 - Plus my Personal Top 10 Recipes of 2015

It's always nice to take a moment to sit down and reflect back upon a year. It's nice to look at the highlights and enjoy them all over again. I like having a look back over the posts of a year and sharing with you which posts were post popular. I'm always surprised when I do, as often my favourites don't make the list and sometimes I'm surprised at what does. That's what makes it so interesting though, so this year I'm sharing with you again the 10 recipes which you, my readers, enjoyed the most. I'm also sharing my own personal top 10 (which only a few overlapping!). Hope you have a wonderful new year and enjoy lots of good food in 2015.

1. Georgian Lobiani (Kidney Bean Filled Bread)

2. Panamanian (Vegan) Empanadas

3. Quinoa Soba Noodle Salad with Bok Choy & Sesame

4. South African Chakalaka

5. Panamanian Black Eyed Beans

6. Vegan Fish Sauce

7. Big Fat Veggie Burger Bowl

8. South African Milk Tart

9. Tunisian Baked Yoyo (Orange Flavoured Doughnuts)

10. Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce Gift Packages

And... in no particular order, my favourites from 2014 were:

Wishing you a happy & healthy new year in 2015 :)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Burmese Sticky Rice Cake

Time to share with you another delicious recipe from the lovely cuisine of Myanmar. This sticky rice cake is so more-ish because it's incredibly tasty and not too sweet! Flavoured with peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut with the use of brown sugar to make a caramelised sticky treat. This is a nice one to get out for your new year celebrations, it's nice to bring in the new year by trying something new :)

Burmese Sticky Rice Cake

1 1/2 cups Thai sticky rice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
2 1/4 cups water
Handful of peanut halves
1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

To Make
1. Rinse the sticky rice with cold water and place in a large non stick saucepan. Add the brown sugar, sesame seeds, salt, chopped peanuts, raisins and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let cook, covered, for about 25 minutes. When it is done cooking it will have absorbed almost all of the water. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
2.  Lightly grease a 9 inch by 9 inch (or similar) size dish and line the bottom of it with non stick baking paper. Gently stir the rice and transfer to the prepared dish. Press down lightly to evenly distribute and compress the rice. Sprinkle the peanut halves and coconut on top and gently press down so that they stick to the top.
3. Let stand for 30 minutes or so and then cut into squares to serve. Do not refrigerate. Store any leftovers on an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 1 x 9 in by 9 in rice cake, approximately 20-25 slices.

This month I'm featuring vegan recipes from Myanmar (Burma).
Check out my other Burmese recipe posts:

Friday, 26 December 2014

Gin Thoke (Burmese Ginger Salad)

I came onto the blog today thinking to share another great Burmese recipe with you for Myanmar month, I was halfway through posting up my Burmese Sticky Rice cake when I realised that so soon after Christmas most people are probably well and truly dessert-ed out! So instead I'll share with you this rather special, very healthy and very fresh salad.

It's a ginger salad, yes, ginger. You might think that is a bit too strong to be a main ingredient in a salad, but this salad uses beautiful fresh ginger which you pickle yourself the night before making the salad. The pickling softens the ginger and smooths the punchy flavour and the end result is really so delicious. I served it up at my Burmese Dinner party and everyone absolutely loved it. It makes a perfect addition to a big meal because the fresh crunchy salad and zingy ginger are so refreshing and make a light and tasty accompaniment to heavier dishes.

1/2 cup grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup lime juice (or a mixture of lemon and lime)
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 small quarter green cabbage , finely shredded
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. chickpea (besan) flour

To Make
1. Combine the grated ginger and lime juice in a jar and shake well. Let sit in the fried overnight, or for about 12 hours. If possible, take it out and shake it a couple of times during the 12 hours.
2. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a pan over a low-medium heat until slightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool. Heat the peanut oil in the pan and fry the garlic slices until they start to brown and go a bit crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to cool. Keep any remaining oil from the pan in a jar or small bowl.
3. Squeeze the lime juice from the ginger and add any juice squeezed out to the jar with the cooled garlic oil. Combine the shredded cabbage, tomatoes, ginger, chilli, peanuts and chickpea flour in a large bowl and toss to combine.
4. Add the soy sauce to the jar with the garlic oil and lime juice and shake to combine. Pour over the salad and toss through. Top the salad with the fried garlic chips and serve.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad.

This month I'm featuring vegan recipes from Myanmar (Burma).
Check out my other Burmese recipe posts:

Friday, 19 December 2014

Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce Gift Packages

Edible gifts are always my favourite things to give at Xmas time, but over the last couple of year I've realised just how unhealthy all the traditional ones are! Mostly its chocolates, lollies, biscuits, jams and desserts in jars. So much sugar! I know a lot of people in my family and friends are trying to have less sugar in their lives which is a wonderful thing and the last thing I want to do is discourage them by piling them with sugary treats at Xmas. No matter how well intentioned, I know I'm not really doing them a favour.

Last year I shared with you gorgeous jars of bean soup mix, which has turned into one of my favourite healthy (and so easy!) gifts. I also shared 2 types of Cornbread in a Jar - Chilli Cornbread and  Za'atar Cornbread. I've started to realise since then just how many wonderful home made edible gift ideas there are which aren't piles of sugar.

This one is my new favourite, mostly because I'm a pasta fanatic. It's very adaptable - you can use any pasta sauce you like. If you've got a fabulous signature sauce use that, if not give this recipe a go. Then, go and buy the fanciest pasta you can find in the most fun and exotic shape you can. Sure, it'll cost you $6 instead of 99 cents, but that still works out as a pretty cheap present! It really won't be the same if you use cheap penne, as the exotic pasta in spectacular shapes will be a real treat.

Tomato Vodka Pasta Sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 kg ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 cup loose basil leaves, torn up
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
To Make
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes, carrot, celery, vegetable stock and bay leaf and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are completely cooked through.
2. Remove from the heat and take out the bay leaf. Stir through the basil leaves, vodka and blanched almonds. Season with salt and pepper, if you like. Allow the sauce to cool a bit and then put in a blender and purée until completely smooth.
3. Transfer to washed large jars and put the lids on tightly.
Now - if you're giving these away straight away, you can give them just like this & tell your recipient to store in the fridge and use within  a few days. If you're not sure when they'll use it, or if you'd like to make them up in advance, then just quickly sterilise and seal the jars after you make them. Then they'll keep in the cupboard for months. To do this, line the bottom of a really big saucepan with a tea towel (so that the bottoms of the glass jars aren't touching the bottom of the hot pan) and place your jars in (make sure lids are on as tight as you can). Fill with enough cold water to completely cover the jars and turn on the heat. Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Makes approximately 2 large jars.


To make up your gift packs, simply cut a piece of hessian or something suitably rustic and pie it on the top of your jar using black or brown twine. Label your jars and use twine to tie the jar to a packet of gourmet special pasta. You may also like to include a used by date on your label.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Burmese Tomato Salad

Growing up I was always a complete tomato fanatic, and I still find it pretty hard to go past a recipe for tomato salad! This Burmese one is one of the best I've ever made, definitely. It's flavoured by the quintessentially Burmese ingredients of sesame seeds, peanuts, chickpea flour and (vegan) fish sauce. One of my favourite things about tomatoes in salads is that they really soak up the dressing and take on all the wonderful flavours.

This makes a colourful and fresh addition to a family feast, potluck or gathering. The Burmese make it with fish sauce, but I've substituted my home made vegan fish sauce instead - you can, of course, use either.

Burmese Tomato Salad

1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. chickpea (besan) flour
4 tomatoes, roughly diced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 green chilli, finely minced (remove the 'placenta' of the chilli if you want it mild)
2 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
2 tbsp. finely chopped peanuts
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. vegan fish sauce

To Make
1. In a small frypan, dry toast the sesame seeds until just golden. Set aside cool. Then dry toast the chickpea flour unto just starting to go golden, tossing frequently to ensure even toasting. Set aside to cool. At this stage you can also toast the peanuts, if you are using peanuts that are not already roasted.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix with your fingers. Serve.

Serves 4 as a side salad.

This month I'm featuring vegan recipes from Myanmar (Burma).
Check out my other Burmese recipe posts:

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Oranjebitter - Dutch Orange Bitters (Vegan Virtual Potluck 5)

Remember when we had Netherlands month on the blog? Of course you don't, it was ages ago! This recipe for Oranjebitter (Orange Bitters) is from way back then but I was holding onto it for a special occasion. The return of the spectacular Virtual Vegan Potluck is the perfect time to share this one with you, not only because I'm in the beverages category - but also because the (optional) theme ingredient this time around is Citrus.

Cue: Orange Bitters. You might be wondering what orange bitters is, and thinking that the use of the word "bitter" in the title is not so appealing. Ever had a Lemon, Lime & Bitters? They use Angostura bitters. Dutch Orange Bitters (Oranjebitter) is another type of bitters, but an orange flavoured one - pretty self explanatory.

Their uses are very broad, they make a great aperitif, digestif and cocktail ingredient. One of the easiest ways to use your orange bitters is to make yourself a Lemon, Lime & Orange Bitters. Just swap out your angostura bitters for orange. There are many cocktails which specifically used orange bitters, but you can also use it to drizzle over ice cream, to flavour cakes and desserts or just to drink on ice if you love the taste of bitter orange (if you're a marmalade lover, then you probably do love the taste of bitter orange!). If you're keen to just drink it as a dessert, you can whip up a simple sugar syrup (gently heat 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar to dissolve and then cool to room temperature) and then add the orange bitters to taste.

Because it's been such a long time since Netherlands month, I'll remind you of some of the delicious vegan recipes I shared:

Dutch Orange Bitters (Oranjebitter)

1 lemon, washed
1 orange, washed
5 cardamom pods
3 tbsp sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 vanilla bean
2 cups vodka

To Make
1. Use a potato peeler to thinly peel the orange and lemon. Juice them both and then set the juice aside, but save the seeds. Lay the peel and the seeds out on a tray and dry them in a warmed oven until dried out and crisp.
2. Place the peel, seeds, cardamom pods and sugar in a mortar and pestle and crush up just a little bit.
3. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized jar and pour the reserved orange and lemon juice and the vodka over the top. Shake well and put the lid on nice and tight.
4. Leave in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks to infuse, taking it out and shaking it up every couple of days.
5. You can leave it as long as you like, and taste it every so often until you get it as strong and bitter as you like. When you like how it tastes, strain through a tea strainer lined with filter paper to get a clear golden liquid. Stores in the cupboard for 12-18 months. 

Makes 2 1/2 - 3 cups. 

A quick note- I've photographed mine before I strained it out, to show the ingredients infusing in the jar, which is why it's still quite cloudy in my pictures. The final result should be much clearer.

This is part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck #5, so please use the buttons below to check out what other delicious recipes have been brought to the potluck:

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Or, if you'd like to start at the beginning and work your way through, click here.

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Thanks for stopping in and enjoy the potluck! If you like what you see on the blog and want to keep in touch, I recommend liking the Gormandize facebook page so that you can get my new recipes all up in your feed!

In case you're interested.... this month is Myanmar (Burmese) Food Month on the blog.

This month I'm featuring vegan recipes from Myanmar (Burma).
Check out my other Burmese recipe posts: