Peanut-sesame noodles with cucumber and tofu

This cold noodle dish is a perfect way to celebrate the sun and warm weather, and a perfect dish to keep devouring during the summer months ahead. It is loaded with flavour and full of protein. It may have a list of ingredients as long as your arm, but it is a cinch to throw together!

peanut sesame noodles

Serves 4
Active time: about 30 minutes
I like to use mie noodles for this because they have a lovely bite, and I grate both the ginger and garlic with a microplane.
This recipe was adapted from here.

Ingredients

250g (about 9oz) noodles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2cm fresh ginger, finely grated (about 2 tsp)
1 large garlic clove, finely grated
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
200g (about 7oz) tofu, drained and sliced
2 Tbsp corn starch
about 15cm (6″) cucumber, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
a big handful of chopped basil
1 spring onion (scallion), sliced

Directions

Drain the tofu and press between sheets of paper towel to remove as much water as possible.

Whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic, chilli flakes and sesame seeds in a small bowl and set aside. The longer it sits, the more the chilli will infuse the sauce with its spiciness.

Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat until shimmering, dust the tofu in corn starch and fry until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack lined with paper towel and allow to cool.

Cook the noodles according to package directions, rinse well under cold running water and drain.

Toss the sauce with the noodles, then add the cucumber and fried tofu and toss well.

Can be refrigerated for a day before serving.

Garnish with peanuts, basil and spring onion.

Posted in asian, lunch, pasta, salad, thai, tofu, vegan | Leave a comment

Cherry tomatoes roasted with pangrattato

Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs, but this is so much more than that! Loaded with flavour, it elevates the humble tomato to dizzy heights!

These tomatoes are exceptionally good served with pasta, polenta or bruschetta.

roasted tomatoes final

Serves 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Roasting: 1 hour

Ingredients

500g (about 1 lb) cherry tomatoes
10 – 12 black olives, minced (I used Kalamata olives)
1 Tbsp capers, minced
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped basil
zest of 1 organic lemon
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (or toasted fresh breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper to taste
3 – 4 Tbsp olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4 and lightly oil a medium rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and arrange them cut-side-up in the pan.

In a bowl, combine the olives, capers, parsley, basil, lemon zest, garlic and breadcrumbs, and season generously. Sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes and drizzle generously with olive oil, 3 – 4 tablespoons.

Roast in centre of oven for 1 hour, until tomatoes are soft and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Posted in italian, pasta, risotto, side, vegan | Leave a comment

Mocha macarons with açaí ermine filling

mocha acai macarons

It has been so long so I made macarons! I was looking for inspiration and my son’s Brazilian girlfriend suggested this combination. But we don’t keep instant coffee powder in the house, so a science experiment ensued to test whether I could put real espresso into the shells somehow. Turns out, you can!

For a full step-by-step tutorial on making macarons, check out this post.

Makes 30 filled macarons
Shells: 30 min preparation, 20 min resting, 40 min baking
Filling: 10 min preparation, 5 min cooking, 1 hour cooling
Assembly: 10 minutes
Resting: 24 hours for best results

Ingredients

The shells

140g ground almonds
120g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
20g cocoa powder
100g egg white (from approx. 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
40g espresso coffee (the actual drink, not powder)

The filling

120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
12g (1 1/2 tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
small pinch salt
115g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
15g (3 Tbsp) powdered açaí berries

Directions

The shells

Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets. They need to be big enough to hold 30 x 4cm / 1 1/2” diameter shells each.

Mix the ground almonds and powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl, then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.

Sift into a large bowl (I use a mesh strainer and push the mixture through with a spatula), putting any bigger pieces of almond back into the food processor to re-grind.

Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the almond mixture. Set aside.

In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment, scrupulously clean and free of any oil or egg yolk, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks.

Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and the coffee into a small heavy-based saucepan and heat on medium-low to 118°C / 244°F, without stirring.

While whisking constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. You’ll get a bit of it hardening on the side of the bowl, but that’s okay – just leave it there.

Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool. Because of the oil in the coffee, it will look a bit soupy at first and it won’t beat up quite as firm as usual, but let it go for three to five minutes and you’ll get there.

Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogeneous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon. Be careful not to overmix – the oil from the coffee means it requires far less mixing than usual.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm / #10 – #12 plain round tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 4cm / 1 1/2”, in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.

Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. If you have any tips sticking up, press them gently down with a damp fingertip. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes until a slight skin forms. It should be dull, and if you touch it, it should be only just tacky.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.

Bake the macarons in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, turning the sheet half-way.

Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully from the parchment.

If not filling straight away, store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

The filling

Whisk flour into milk and place over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until thickened, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes once warm. It should have the consistency of a thick béchamel. Whisk in salt and pour mixture into a small bowl, then cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface to avoid a skin forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature – if it’s not cool, you risk having the frosting curdle.

In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add açaí berry powder and beat in well.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the milk mixture one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated and you have a light and fluffy frosting.

Pipe or spoon a generous blob of filling onto the flat side of half the shells, top with the remaining shells and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge to mature for 24 hours before eating.

Posted in biscuit, brazilian, cookie, dessert, french, macaron, sweet | Leave a comment

Seitan shawarma

Friday nights at our place have become wrap nights, and this seitan shawarma is our absolute favourite.

seitan shawarma

I like to prepare this in the morning and let it spend the day marinating then reheat it before serving. It works equally well served on a plate with a fork, or wrapped in fresh pita bread.

Makes 6 – 8 wraps
Seitan: 1 hour cooking
Shawarma sauce: 10 minutes
Total active time: 30 minutes
I adapted this recipe from one for lentil wraps.

The seitan

250g (2 cups) vital wheat gluten
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
500ml (2 cups) cold water
2 litres (2 quarts) vegetable stock

The sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste

The salad

2 large tomatoes, seeded and sliced
about 20cm (8″) cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon sumac
Salt and pepper to taste

The accompaniments

pita bread
greek yoghurt (or greek-style soy yoghurt) mixed with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, a crushed garlic clove and a handful of finely chopped parsley

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients for the seitan, add the cold water until mix by hand until it is fully combined and kind of spongey. Form into a log and slice about 1cm (about 1/2″) thick. Make sure to keep the pieces separate or they will stick together as the gluten does what gluten does, which is bond.

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to the boil, add the seitan, cover, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and drain seitan in a colander while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. Stir together for about 1 minute to bring out the flavour of the spices.

Add the the soy sauce, lemon juice and tomato paste to the skillet and stir to combine. Slice the seitan into strips, add to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened – cooking time will depend on how wet the seitan is.

Freezes well.

Posted in burgers&patties, dressings&sauces, middle eastern, salad, vegan | 2 Comments

Roasted vegetable Danish braid

Oven roasted vegetables filling a flaky, savoury Danish pastry crust.

roasted vegetable danish braid

Yes, this is quite time-consuming, but I needed to bake something. I’ve been off my game a bit, too burdened with work to spend much time in the kitchen. I decided to seek inspiration and, apparently, binge-watching The Great British Bake Off can have a serious effect on your family’s eating habits… If you aren’t keen on several hours prepping dough, feel free to use store-bough puff pastry or even pizza dough.

Serves 4 (main) to 8 (appetiser or side)
Dough: 3 hours
Filling: 1 hour + cooling (during the dough prep time)
Baking: 30 minutes
Notes: If you want to spread the dough-making out over two days, you can refrigerate it overnight after the first rise or at either of the chilling stages – just cover it tightly so it doesn’t dry out.
If at any point in the rolling process the dough splits, brush the split with flour, and if the butter becomes too soft, put the dough in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.

Dough

115g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
20g (2 rounded Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour

250g (2 cups spooned and scraped) bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
120ml (1/2 cup) milk, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrate)

Filling

Note: I used about 250g (roughly 1/2 pound) of each of the vegetables. I’ve listed the ones I used, but I imagine that sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli… would be great, too

2 large waxy potatoes
1 small eggplant (aubergine)
1 medium red pepper (capsicum)
1 large zucchini (courgette)
4 – 5 cloves garlic
30ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
120ml (1/2 cup) tomato passata
2 tsp mixed dried herbs such as marjoram, parsley, basil, sage, thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dry breadcrumbs as needed

1 egg beaten for egg wash

Dough

Use a fork to mix the softened butter with 20g (2 rounded Tbsp) flour until well combined. On a sheet of plastic wrap, use a spatula to spread out butter mixture into a 10 x 15cm (4 × 6”) rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate until firm while you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, whisk together 250g (2 cups) of bread flour, yeast, salt and plenty of pepper.

Add the milk, egg and tomato paste and mix until smooth.

Knead you have a smooth dough, at least 5 minutes. It will start out sticky, but it will become soft and smooth as you knead. If it’s still very sticky after 5 minutes, add another tablespoon of flour and knead again.

Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until it doubles in size, about one hour.

On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle.

Place the butter rectangle on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it. Pinch edges of dough together and roll it out again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle.

Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter, and roll out the dough again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle and then fold it in thirds again.

Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling, roll it out again to a 15 x 25cm (6 × 10”) rectangle, fold in thirds, roll again and fold again.

Chill for at least another 30 minutes, loosely wrapped in plastic.

Filling

While the dough is proofing and chilling at various stages, prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and slice the garlic into matchsticks, place in a large baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast until everything is soft, about 45 minutes.

Allow to cool, then toss with tomato passata, dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

If the mixture is at all watery, add a couple of tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs, adding more as needed.

Baking

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6.

Roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured baking paper into a rectangle about 25 x 35cm (10 x 14″).

Spread the filling down the long centre third of the dough rectangle, packing it quite tightly and leaving about 2cm (roughly 1″) at each end.

Use a sharp knife to cut the sides into strips about 1.5cm (roughly 1/2″) wide at about 45°, cutting from about 1cm (roughly 1/4″) out from the filling.

Fold the ends up over the filling and criss-cross the side strips over the filling. You can remove one or two strips at the end you are folding towards.

Slide the baking paper onto a baking sheet, brush with egg wash and place in centre of oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Transfer to a wire to cool a little before slicing. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.

Posted in pastry, tart&pie | Leave a comment

White bean and rapini soup

A rich and peppery soup to fill your belly and warm your bones.

green soup

We eat soup for dinner at least once a week and I’m constantly trying out new combinations of vegetables. Rapini (broccoli rabe, cime di rapa or whatever name you choose to use) is one our favourite winter veggies – bright green, loaded with goodness and with it’s peppery and slightly bitter taste, it’s no wonder it’s the central feature of so many European traditional dishes.

Serves 8
Preparation: about 1 hour
Freezes well

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large celeriac (celery root) (approx. 800g or about 2lb), peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 litres (1 1/2 quarts) vegetable stock
1 bunch rapini (approx. 500g or about 1lb), chopped
1 x 400g (14oz) can cannellini (white) beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes (optional)

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the onion until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the celeriac and cook until the celeriac has started to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a further five minutes. You should stir quite frequently during this process.

Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer.

Set aside a large handful of the more tender rapini leaves, and add the rest of it, along with the white beans, to the pot. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Using a stick blender or a normal blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to low heat and season well. Add a little more water or stock to thin the soup if desired.

5 minutes before serving, stir through the reserved tender rapini leaves.

Serve with plenty of pepper and a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional).

Posted in soup, vegan | 4 Comments

Mini panettoni with dark chocolate

Festive baking time! Rich, yeasted sweet bread studded with dark chocolate, in a handy little size for parties and lunchboxes.

mini panattoni with dark chocolate

Makes 24 muffin-sized panettone
Active time about 2 hours
Resting time 5 – 6 hours
Baking time about 40 minutes

Because it is made in so many stages, I recommend reading through the whole recipe first, then dividing it up to suit your schedule – if you don’t have time to do the whole thing in one day, you can refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise and pick it up the next day.

Note that all the ingredients (including milk, butter and eggs) should be at room temperature.

Sponge

1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 large egg yolk
15g (1 Tbsp) sugar
50g (2 heaped Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the milk, add egg yolk, sugar and flour and mix until smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

First dough

185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
25g (2 scant Tbsp) sugar
1 large egg
28g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter

Add the flour, sugar and egg to sponge and mix with a wooden spoon or paddle beater. Add butter and beat until fully incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Second dough

2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
145g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter
185g (1 1/2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g (3 1/2 oz) roughly chopped dark chocolate

Add eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract to first dough and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or paddle beater.

Add butter gradually, mixing well.

Add flour and salt and knead together into a soft dough.

Knead in chopped chocolate, then continue to knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is soft and light. It will be quite soft and sticky.

First rise

Scrape dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

Second rise

Put 24 cupcake liners into muffin pans.

Punch down dough and pull off golf-ball sized pieces, roll them into balls and pop into cupcake liners.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled – about 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

Baking

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

Brush with egg wash and bake in centre and lower third of oven for 15 minutes, swapping trays after 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2 and bake another 25 – 30 minutes, swapping trays after 15 minutes, until golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, dessert, italian, muffin, snack, sweet | 11 Comments