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Posts Tagged ‘Salad’

A good 10 years or so ago, I lived in a small town in West Wales. I attempted a degree, but it didn’t work out and I ended up working and eventually managing a busy little cafe there. I loved the social side of it, my friends would come and hang out there, I met so many different people, i loved shopping for the kitchen ingredients, catering and developing new dishes. The people I worked with were like my second family and most of all, I learned so much about food, especially vegan, vegetarian and how to adapt dishes for various intolerances and tastes. It was most probably one of the most influential times in my culinary journey.

Since then, in all my jobs, i have worked with food. People and food. It is my passion. I love to discover new ways of making food, particularly now I prefer not to use animal ingredients. It has been interesting and a real challenge sometimes to try and produce the equivalent vegan dish. I like doing this, because it can demonstrate that some ingredients are just not necessary, if the equivalent can be made with plant based food.

Today I thought I’d share with you my kitchen here and about some of the food I always like to have stocked up and about the new ingredients I have discovered on my stay in Koh Lanta so far.

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I love my fridge to be packed out with fresh green vegetables and herbs. The smell as I open the door is divine and it helps me keep a good mindset when I open it to find foods that I feel are healthy and contributing towards my body being its best.
Amongst other things, today I stocked up on lemongrass, spring onions, holy basil, coriander, galangal, thai aubergines, sweet potatos – about four different kinds, squash and various Asian greens, like Pak Choy, Gai Lan and Choy sum. I’m going to make little Bear a salad later for his tea. He adores any greens, especially lettuce, so I’m going to put those together with some tomato. Another of his favourites.

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We love bananas, well I love bananas. They are my favourite fruit and I eat at least 3-6 a day. Today I think I’ve had about 12, including some of the little thai kind, which are much sweeter and intense in flavour. I have banana in my smoothie for breakfast and then as a snack whenever I fancy something sweet. I really enjoy them in a curry too. They add a rich sweetness that counterbalances the spice. I also love them as a dessert and use them to make dishes like my Raw chocolate pie and Strawberry macadamia ‘cheesecake’. Stephen has a pineapple and ginger smoothie in the morning, or we just cut it up and eat chunks of it as a snack. Best served chilled from the fridge I find.
Onions are an absolute must in my kitchen. I adore them cooked and raw. I also respect their medicinal properties. They’ve helped see colds off!
The other fruit you see in the picture here is Tamarind. When we visited the herb garden last week, we were given some to try. It’s a particularly poignant discovery as Stephen is investigating natural healing and Tamarinds have medicinal properties that are extremely relevant in his research. What makes it more exciting is that we found a Tamarind tree in our garden!

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On my little spice shelves, you can see jasmine green tea, mung beans and chick peas to sprout (I will show you how to do this and why in a future post) garlic, soy sauce, salt, ground cumin and coriander, ginger, dried chillies and the bits you can’t see are young peppercorns, which I am going to stock always now, Kefir lime leaves and these teeny tiny pea aubergines. All in all a wonderful mix of flavours and textures.
Also today, I found a Pomelo! The biggest citrus fruit there is!

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So we popped to a couple of stalls yesterday. There are lots of them here. It seems in the more built up areas that every building is a shop, restaurant or stall. We go there to find ripened coconuts and some fruit and veg. We also have coconut trees growing near our house, but they seem to be smaller and not as sweet. Just as delicious and nutritious though.

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Bear and I cracked open a couple of the smaller ones today. As you can see from the photos, they are a long way from the shrivelled dry husks we see a lot of in the UK. A fresh green coconut is filled with the sweet milky water, then if you split it open, or can fit your spoon in the hole you’ve made, the meat can be scooped out. It’s soft, sometimes jellylike, sometimes tougher.

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I then made a really simple salad for lunch. It was basic, because I haven’t quite worked out the best sources for my nuts, dried fruits and seeds yet. Once I have, I can add more texture, balance and flavour. Not that I don’t enjoy the taste of these ingredients alone, I just like to make a dish with depth.

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I made a basic salsa dressing with the tomato, mango, chilli and lime juice.
I think perfect additions would be garlic, toasted/raw peanuts, dried apricot, a little sesame oil and spring onions. But the beauty of any salad is the adaptive nature of it.

I half wish I’d brought my spiraliser with me so I could make raw vegetable noodles, because I’ve seen squash in season, but having loads of gadgets really defeats the object of simple food. I have some good knives here though, so watch this space for a raw pad Thai salad yummycheffarley style 🙂

Here’s a picture of one I made a few months back.

Now I’m here in Thailand, I can try to make a more authentic version…with no gadgets!

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So earlier today, I told you I was thinking about how to use these two delicious looking Aubergines given to me by my lovely boyfriend’s sister.  My initial ideas were a cous cous dish, a pate and a dahl or a curry of some kind.  I do love aubergine in curry and so I think when I get the next ones in the crop I will show you how I would make a curry, but today I decided on the first two and a rather scrummy addition, even if I do say so myself!!

I always fancied a recipe a Canadian friend of mine mentioned.  Courgette and chocolate muffins.  Now I’ve never got round to trying those out, however I have tried courgette and cheese muffins.  I don’t know about you, but I find Aubergines and courgettes a little bit similar.  The main differences though are the Aubergine’s much tougher skin and its much denser spongy and dry flesh.  Over the years I’ve learnt that the Aubergine loves a nice drink of olive oil and always wants a bit of salt in its life.  I also recently discovered a new flavour combination sensation (as you may have seen in my Three course meal blog) – Honey, Cumin and Parmesan.   So This is my attempt to sell the Aubergine as a hugely versatile vegetable, who provides us with plenty of antioxidants, fibre and vitamins.

The first recipe, a simple one, is a quick pate, which, depending on how you want to use it, could be served as a starter with toast, made into a delicious sandwich filling with crispy, juicy lettuce or perhaps as a base for an appetiser or canape at party time.  One thing I would say, is in my recipe, the skin was what made this pate coarse.  You would have to bend it further to make the pieces smaller.  I expect if you didn’t want it to be so prominent as a texture, I would peel the aubergine if you don’t want the great fibre it grants you, leave it out altogether.

Coarse Aubergine Pate

1 onion chopped
1 Aubergine chopped into cubes
2 garlic cloves crushed, peel and chopped roughly
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180°C

1.  Stir the aubergine, onion, garlic and cumin into 2 tablespoons of olive oil.


2.  Roast in the oven on a baking tray for 25 minutes.
3.  Remove from the oven, transfer into a bowl and blend.


4.  Stir in the honey and season to taste.

Serve with warm toast, or in a sandwich with salad.

Aubergine and Quinoa salad

I don’t know if you’ve tried Quinoa, but I think its delicious. you could just as easily replace it in this recipe with cous cous, or rice, however this yummy alternative provides a large amount of protein and so in a vegetable dish, it adds excellent balance.   All of the other ingredients are all pretty much my favourites in a salad and I always have them in my cupboards or freezer.  Adding the Aubergine gave it a nice sweet touch.  This amount will serve one person for a large lunch or light dinner.  Increase quantities according to how many people you’d like to feed.

3 Tablespoons of Quinoa
½ Aubergine chopped into bite size chunks
2 cabbage leaves chopped
2 tablespoons of frozen peas
5 green beans chopped
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
2 pitted dates chopped
Goats cheese to taste
2 tablespoon of olive oil to cook with

To make the dressing:-

1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste

1.  Place Quinoa in water, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer for 20 minutes, until the little ‘tails’ are visible and start coming away from the main grain.  Strain to remove water and set to one side.


2.  Shallow fry the pine nuts for about three minutes or until golden brown.


3.  Remove the pine nuts from the oil and place to one side.  Using the oil that remains in the frying pan, fry the aubergine until golden brown.


4.  Now add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil along with the cabbage and peas and fry for a further 4 minutes.


5.  Combine all of the dressing ingredients together and add to the pan.


6.  Finally, add the dates into the pan and stir, then add the Quinoa and the pine nuts.  Stir all of the ingredients together, incorporating the dressing.


7.  Serve with pieces of soft goats cheese

Aubergine and parmesan muffins

200g Self raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of finely grated parmesan
½ Aubergine grated
50g butter melted
150ml milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon of honey
Pinch of salt
Grated cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 200°C

1.  Place the flour, salt, baking powder, cumin, parmesan and aubergine into a bowl and stir quickly.


2.  Beat milk with the egg with a fork, then add the melted butter and honey.  Pour these wet ingredients into the flour mix and stir quickly, not too much, leaving the mixture lumpy.


3.  Distribute into a baking tin (I used silicone) and top each one with a small amount of grated cheddar cheese.


4.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with butter!

 

I hope you enjoy making these recipes! I really did and sat down to sample them all with my dad, who demolished a good few of the muffins!!

 

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