Sesame-Ginger Quinoa Salad

23 Jul

Hello, hello, it’s been quite awhile! Let’s just pick up where we left off, as it’s July again. Sunny Scotland’s undergoing a bit of a heat wave at the moment, which is quite conducive to salad making. Spruce up some fresh greens with a bit of quinoa, raw beetroot, and a spicy sesame-ginger dressing! The beets turn the quinoa an attractive shade of pink.

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For four servings of this salad you’ll need:

  • 2 raw grated beets
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded spinach
  • 2 sliced spring onions

And the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-inch knob ginger, grated finely
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • pinch chili flakes

Assemble the salad ingredients, whisk together the dressing, and toss it all together for a simple, refreshing, and crunchy result.

Granny’s Lettuce Soup

1 Jul

We’ve got a whole mess of lettuce on our hands from the garden, so my Scottish grandmother-in-law was kind enough to share her lettuce soup recipe to help us wilt it down to size! And now I shall share it with you, for the perfect light lunch.

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Here’s her unedited recipe:

Loads of lettuce

1 large or 2 small onions

1 large potato

1 – 1.5 litres of stock

Garlic!

Plenty of black pepper

Salt to taste

Blitz when cool and thicken with corn flour.

Serve with cream and parsley to garnish.

Add a little sugar if slightly bitter.

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This didn’t need to cook too long… probably about 20 minutes before cooling it for blitzing. I did without the cream (keepin’ it light, y’all) and didn’t think it needed any sugar, but that’s a handy hint to keep in mind. I think it would be very nice with some added peas and mint for a super fresh garden extravaganza in my mouth, but it was definitely quite lovely as is!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlets

15 Jun

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Rhubarb can be a bit confusing, all tall and stalky and sour. It’s not how a fruit should be! But it can be delicious, particularly when paired with a more popular berry.  Here’s a fun, easygoing little tart that you can leisurely cobble together by hand, adapted from a very basic Joy of Cooking pie recipe. You’ll need about 4 cups of fresh fruit in total, so go for an even mix of strawberry and rhubarb to strike the balance of sweet and sour.

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First, whip up an easy short crust pastry dough. You’ll need:

  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Smattering of ice water to hold it together (about ¼ cup or more if needed)

Pop the dry ingredients into a food processor before adding in the butter.

Pulse until you have small granules.

Add in the ice water bit by bit until the dough comes together.

Alternately, you could use knives or a pastry cutter to make the dough by hand.

Form pastry dough into a ball, cover and let chill for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, combine:

  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 2 cups of chopped strawberries
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar (or more if you’ve got a sweet tooth, up to a cup)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

When the dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and cut it into 8 equal pieces.

Roll each bit of dough into a circular disk of about 6 inches in diameter.

Heap a portion of fruit into the centre of each disk, pulling the dough edges inward to leave the middle exposed.

Bake at 200C or 400F for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Serve with custard, vanilla ice cream, or just a nice cup of tea.

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Mushroom Ceviche

15 Jun

It took about 6 months of living by the ocean in Lima, Peru before I finally caved and made the temporary jump from vegetarian to pescetarian. All the top shelf seafood at bargain basement prices finally got to me, along with my Peruvian friends’ clear enthusiasm for the local cuisine. You can definitely stay vegetarian (vegan, even) in Peru, (hello delicious potatoes and quinoa!) but I wanted the full experience. For this same reason, I tried a few bites of steak in Buenos Aires. It was delicious. And then I felt sick.

Anyways, I confess I was never super crazy about ceviche beyond the first few bites; a whole platter of acidic fish was always a bit much for me. But I loved that first bite, and I feel like it’s best in small doses, as a starter.

You can take the same flavours that make ceviche so fresh and bracing, and apply them to non-fish elements. Ceviche-fied artichoke is a match made in heaven, but so is a medley of mushrooms. The slightly alien quality of enoki mushrooms makes them seem like they could come from the dark briny depths, and oyster mushrooms are an obvious choice. In addition to the usual citrus juice and chili pepper I added a bit of seaweed to give the dish a whiff of the sea.

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  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut, oyster, and enoki)
  • juice from 1.5 limes
  • 1-2 chili peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried wakame, reconstituted in a bit of water and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • sea salt to taste  (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander

Combine all ingredients and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Tortilla

23 Apr

Asparagus season is short and sweet. Make the most of these slender spears now crowding the markets with a simple Spanish tortilla. Serve it with a bottle of bubbly Cava and you will need nada mas!

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  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • About 1 ½ cups of new potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Parboil the potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Steam the asparagus for 3 or 4 minutes, or until just tender. Plunge into a cold water bath to stop it from cooking any further.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and add potatoes. Cook at a medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are browned.

Reduce heat to medium low and pour in beaten eggs.

Layer the asparagus spears into the egg and potato mixture.

Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, black pepper, and thyme.

Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the tortilla is almost cooked through. The top should still be runny.

Place under a grill and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until just starting to brown on the top.

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Mediterranean Bean Stew

23 Apr

We eat a lot of beans in this house and I’m not ashamed to admit it. There are so many ways to dress up beans, and I look forward to using them in lighter seasonal dishes after eating sludgy winter soup for months on end. Here’s a nearly zero-effort summery white bean stew studded with fresh herbs. The dash of lemon zest brightens up the dish with a dose of sunshine, and you can imagine eating it in a rustic seaside café. I suspect it would be a fine accompaniment to grilled fish of some sort, but I paired it with some roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Because there is never enough garlic.

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  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 small onions (1 red, 1 white)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3-4 cups cooked white beans (I used a combo of butterbean and cannellini)
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes, crushed
  • Good amount of olive oil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh basil
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Sautee all the veggies in a dollop of olive oil.

Add the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste.

Simmer over a medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir in the fresh herbs and lemon zest, and cook for an additional minute or two.

Season to taste.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, or with some nice crusty bread and a glass of white wine.

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Stir-Fried Cauliflower and Smoked Tofu with a Miso-Chili Sauce

9 Apr

I’ve noticed  cauliflower everywhere lately, from the NY Times to the Guardian to the Washington Post. Could cauliflower be the hottest new member of the brassica family? Kale better step it up! Here’s a quick cauliflower stir-fry recipe that is appropriate on its own as a side dish or paired with brown rice to make it a healthy meal. Cauliflower can easily stand up to bold flavours like miso, ginger, and chili peppers and is a pleasant companion to the smoked tofu.

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  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 brick smoked tofu, cubed
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 chili peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Garnish: Spring onions + Coriander + Toasted Sesame Seeds

Combine sauce ingredients about 30-60 minutes ahead of time and let stand.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet or wok and add the onion, frying for 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and smoked tofu and stir-fry for 5 minutes, adding a splash of soy sauce if moisture is needed.

Pour in the miso-chili sauce and stir well.

Cover the pan and let steam for 2-3 more minutes or until cauliflower is cooked through but still firm. Give it a good shake every now and then.

Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, fresh coriander sprigs and sliced spring onions.

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