Asian Seared Steak with Stir-fried Savoy Cabbage

This works with any variety of cabbage but I like Savoy the best.

Asian Seared Steak with Stir-fried Savoy Cabbage

1 large organic sirloin steak

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ tbsp sesame oil, plus extra

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

½ star anise

Thumb-size piece fresh ginger, grated

¼ of a medium savoy cabbage (outer leaves discarded), shredded

1 tsp fish sauce

Juice 1 lime, plus extra wedges to serve

Small bunch each fresh coriander and Thai basil (or mint), roughly chopped, plus extra to serve

Put the steak in a shallow dish and pour over the soy sauce. Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Pour in the oil and swirl the pan to coat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, ginger and chilli, then stir-fry for 1-2 minutes – keep it moving or it will burn. Add the star anise and the cabbage and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the cabbage has coloured a little.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Remove the steak from the dish (reserve the soy sauce) and rub with oil. When the pan is smoking hot, add the steak and cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare, pressing down to flatten so it crisps and caramelises. Once cooked to your liking, remove to a plate and set aside to rest.

Add the soy to the cabbage along  with the fish sauce, then squeeze in the lime and cook for 2 minutes. Scatter over the herbs and stir. Taste and season. Add more sesame oil to taste. Divide between 2 plates. Slice the steak and put on top of the stir-fry, pouring any resting juices on top. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

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Saag Paneer

I don’t know why but I had never tried Saag Paneer. Whenever I go out for an Indian meal,  I guess I have always opted for Saag Aloo and so it never got a look in. Well that is a thing of the past. It is sublime. An Indian spiced, creamed spinach – what a great combination.

Neither did I know that you can make your own Paneer. I have to admit though that I didn’t. I got mine from Waitrose!

Saag Paneer

Coconut oil

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons garam masala

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 ripe tomatoes

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

100 ml double cream

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the paneer: OR 1 block of ready made Paneer (226g)

1.5 litres whole milk

1 lemon

To make the paneer, line a sieve with a large piece of muslin and place over a bowl. Heat the milk in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Gradually add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, stirring continuously so the curds and whey separate. Carefully pour the mixture into the sieve so the curds collect in the muslin. Place under cold running water to get rid of any whey, then gather up the muslin and squeeze out the excess moisture. Keeping the muslin bundle in the sieve, cover it with a plate and top with a few heavy weights (a couple of tins work well). Place in the fridge for 1 hour 30 minutes to set.  cut the

Cut the paneer into 2cm chunks. Heat some coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the paneer and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden, stirring frequently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain.

Peel and finely chop the onion and finely grate the garlic and ginger. Return the pan to a medium-low heat, adding a splash more oil, if needed. Add the cumin seeds, fry for 1 minute, then add the onion and cook for around 8 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic, ginger, garam masala and turmeric. Halve, deseed and very finely chop the tomato, add to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile blanch the spinach in a pan of salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a dry tea towel to cool. When cool enough to handle, use the tea towel to squeeze the excess water from the spinach. Roughly chop.

Stir in the spinach, cover and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the cream, paneer and a splash of boiling water. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further minute or two with the lid off, or until reduced to a deliciously creamy consistency. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Summer Greens with Lentils, Chilli and Coriander

I know we have has two rather labour-intensive recipes this week and I know that you are probably all in a hurry so here is a really quick and easy and healthy way of using up all your summer greens. I will be serving this up for the vegans tonight,  amongst other things, at the SupperClub in Putney. I hope they like it!

Summer Greens with Lentils, Chilli and Coriander

You can use all manner of greens with this recipe, spring greens, spinach, kale, Cavalo Nero or any type of cabbage. Just remember if the greens are very fibrous they may need blanching first, but If they are tender you can just sweat them down as in this recipe.

This makes a lot. Enough for 4 as a main or 8-10 as a side. Half the quantities if you are not very hungry.

for the lentils:

300g Puy lentils

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil

for the spring greens:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1-2 chilli, chopped

500g spring greens, shredded

Juice of ½ lemon

1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

First cook the lentils. Put them in a pan with the garlic and add enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until tender, topping up the water if necessary. Drain, then season well and mix in the olive oil.

For the spring greens heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, garlic and chilli, then cover and sweat for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the shredded spring greens and season well. Cook, stirring, over a high heat until wilted. Stir in the lemon juice, lentils and coriander and adjust the seasoning.

Puy lentil and mushroom Bolognaise

As I said, I have been using up lentils this week, and what better way than this fabulous lentil Bolognaise. It is healthier, quicker, cheaper and makes so much less mess as there is no meat to brown off. You can use it just like Bolognaise too – in a lasagne, in a baked potato, on polenta or on pasta as I did. I really cannot rate it enough.

Puy lentil and mushroom Bolognaise

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 onions, finely chopped

300g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

250g puy lentils

150ml red wine

1 tablespoon tomato puree

800g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 litre vegetable stock (I make mine with kello stock cubes)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried oregano

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the carrot, celery and onion for about 10 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic, cooking until the mushrooms are cooked through, release their liquid and begin to fry. Add the tomato puree and fry for a minute or two. Add the red wine and reduce for a few minutes. Season well and add the puy lentils and the tinned tomatoes, stock and herbs and simmer for 25-35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and your ragu is nice and thick (you may need to add extra stock/ boil away any excess depending how long it takes the lentils to soften). Check seasoning.

Chilli Con Carne with Roast Sweet Potato Chips

I have got obsessed about sweet potatoes, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. It is more of a snack though, and not exactly a meal, so I decided to turn it into one.

Chilli Con Carne with Roast Sweet Potato Chips

Olive oil

1 large onion

1 red pepper or a few sweet baby peppers

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp spicy chipotle paste

1 tsp ground cumin

500g lean minced beef

400g can plum tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

410g can red kidney beans

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soured cream, to serve

Roast Sweet Potato Wedges

Prepare your vegetables. Chop 1 large onion into small dice. Cut the red pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and seeds and then chop. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

Put a heavy based saucepan on the hob over a medium heat and add some oil and the beef.. Add the oil and the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent. Tip in the garlic, red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. Add the ground cumin and chipotle sauce. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Rinse out the tin with half a tin of water and add that too. Drain the beans and add too with the oregano. Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Simmer it gently. Bring the whole thing to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for an hour or two. (At this stage, you can tip the whole lot in a slow-cooker). You should check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or isn’t drying out. If it is, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough. After simmering gently, the saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist and juicy.

Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with soured cream and sweet potato wedges. Or why not try as a filling for a baked sweet potato!

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

A Modern Borscht – Chilled Roasted Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Sour Cream

There is a lot of controversy about Borscht soup, from where it comes from to what it might contain. There is vegetarian version, ones with meat stock, kosher, non-kosher, fermented, with cream, without cream and so on and so forth!

But all the recipes I found were some old-fashioned. The inclusion of sugar for one, seemed totally unnecessary with such a sweet vegetable. I decided to set out to make one which I wanted to eat. I agree that my pureed version is not classic and that it should be clear, with the beetroot grated or chopped up in the broth. But I wanted to intensify the beetroot flavour by roasting it first. So I suppose I should call it Chilled Roast Beetroot Soup and leave it at that. The addition of horseradish sour cream, which I stole of Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall is inspired although he serves his soup hot and not chilled. I leave it up to the weather on the day to make up your minds.

A Modern Borscht - Chilled Roasted Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Sour Cream 2

Chilled Roasted Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Sour Cream

Serves 4–6

1kg beetroot

2 onions, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 litre vegetable/chicken stock or water and a stock cube

Splash of red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the horseradish sauce

3–4cm piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and freshly grated (or 1 tablespoon creamed horseradish)

200ml soured cream, crème fraîche or thick, plain (full-fat) yoghurt

Freshly chopped dill or chives

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Scrub the beetroot well but leave them whole. Wrap each beetroot in tin foil and put on a tray I the oven. Roast until the beetroot are tender when pierced with a knife – about an hour depending on the size of the beetroot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and cook gently for about 15 minutes, until just beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.

Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream: in a bowl, mix the grated (or creamed) horseradish with the soured cream, crème fraîche or yoghurt. Add a good pinch of salt to taste.

Remove the foil from the beetroot and when cool enough to handle, peel or rub off the skins – they should slip off easily. Roughly chop the beetroot.

Add the chopped beetroot to the onions and cover with stock. Puree with a hand-blender and add plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper and vinegar, to taste. Chill the soup and serve with a dollop of the horseradish cream and the chopped dill or chives scattered on top.

A Modern Borscht - Chilled Roasted Beetroot Soup with Horseradish Sour Cream 1

Soupe au Pistou

I never like to admit it, but I am a bit behind on my veg box. I seem to have been so busy with work and kids and endless things that they need for school before the end on term, that I am constantly pushed for time. This is one of my favourite soups, a French version of the better known Minestrone. I first remember seeing Soupe au Pistou in Marie Claire magazine probably about 30 years ago, when the food writer was a little known guy called Nigel Slater. I can still remember the photos and it looked so simple yet sophisticated.

What is great is, although it takes a little time to make what with all the chopping, it uses up lots of veg. You can be experimental with the ingredients but I piled in heaps of onion, celery, carrots, courgettes and broad beans.

If you too are pushed for time you can buy ready cooked beans and even buy some good quality pesto rather than make your own.

Soupe au Pistou

Soupe au Pistou

Try to have all the vegetables diced about the same size, which makes for a nice presentation. Of course, you can vary the vegetables according to what’s available. If you wish to use canned beans, use 1 400g tin on haricot or cannellini beans. For vegans, leave out the Parmesan.

For the soup

1 cup (200g) dried beans (haricot or cannellini) or 400g tin of beans

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and diced, or 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or dried oregano

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium courgettes, diced

200g shelled  broad beans

200g fresh shelled peas (or frozen)

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or thinly slice

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

100g dried pasta; any small variety will do, such as orzo, vermicelli, elbows, or shells

For the pistou

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

pinch of salt

2 cups (40g) packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil

1 small tomato; peeled, seeded, and diced

1 1/2 ounces (45g) Parmesan cheese, grated

Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. The next day, drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves and enough water to cover the beans. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until tender, adding more water if necessary to keep them immersed. Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and set aside. Alternatively use 1 tin of canned cannellini or haricot beans.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions or leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the thyme or marjoram, diced carrots, zucchini, garlic, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely cooked. Add the cooked beans and their liquid, then the peas and pasta, plus 2 2l water. Bring the soup to a boil, and simmer a few minutes until the pasta is cooked. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and boil the broad beans for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water to refresh. Slip the broad beans out of their outer shell. When the soup is cooked, check the seasoning and add the broad beans.

While the soup is cooking, make the pistou. Pound the garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle (or use a food processor) with a generous pinch of salt. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and pound them into the garlic until the mixture is relatively smooth.Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while pounding, then pound in the tomato and cheese. Taste, and season with more salt if desired.

To serve: Ladle hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to the centre and swirl gently. Keep extra pistou within reach because you’ll likely want to add more to the soup as you go.

Note: If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional water.

Courgettes

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

I always forget about Pilafs and that is a silly thing because they could not be a simpler, quicker and tastier one-pot dish. The onions are an important part of this dish to make sure you take care of them. As I was eating my pilaf, I couldn’t help noticing how similar it was to a salad I featured on this blog about a year ago – Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions. Just shows it is delicious either hot or cold. A recipe for all seasons.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

Cauliflower and Chickpea Pilaf

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 large onions

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

200g basmati rice

350g cauliflower florets

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

500ml vegetable stock

50g toasted flaked almonds

handful of freshly chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the onions. Cook over a very low heat for 10 -15 mins until starting to turn golden. Stir in the curry powder and cumin and cook for 1 min more. Add the rice, cauliflower and chickpeas, stirring to coat.

Pour in the stock and a teaspoon of salt and stir. Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins until the rice and cauliflower are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the almonds and coriander, then serve.

Cauliflower trimmed

Kohl Rabi and Potato Gratin

Its Kohl Rabi time of year again and I have to admit that even I never know what to do with them. But before you panic at the alien in your veg box, I am forever trying to test out new ways of using up this unusual vegetable. But why bother you may wonder. Well, Kohl Rabi is really good for you. Super high in vitamin C, even more than oranges, it is actually of the cabbage family although you would not know it.

Kohl Rabi and Potato Gratin 2

I have to admit I was concerned that I was not really going to like this week’s recipe of Kohl Rabi and Potato Gratin. I though what can Kohl Rabi possibly add to a recipe which was perfectly delicious without it? But I was wrong. The Kohl Rabi really does add to this gratin, not only the vitamins but it adds texture and lightens the consistency of this otherwise rather dense dish. I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough!

Kohl Rabi and Potato Gratin 1

Kohl Rabi and Potato Gratin

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 knob butter, plus a little more for greasing the dish

2 medium onions (about 600g), halved and finely sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

500g kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 3mm thick rounds

250g potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm rounds

2 tsp thyme leaves, chopped

200ml double cream

200ml water (or chicken or vegetable stock)

For the topping

60g fresh breadcrumbs

25g butter, melted

45g cheddar or hard goat’s cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Place a medium-sized frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and butter, wait until it foams, then add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté for 12 minutes, until soft and starting to take on a little colour.

Throw in the kohlrabi, potatoes and thyme, and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing the mixture occasionally, for another five minutes.

Pour over the cream and stock, simmer gently until the liquid is reduced by half, then place in a lightly buttered gratin dish, about 30cm x 20cm x 7cm in size, levelling it out with a spatula as you go. Place the gratin dish on a baking tray.

Blitz together the breadcrumbs, butter and cheese in a blender, and sprinkle over the top of the filling. Bake the gratin in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes, until all golden and bubbling.

Kol Rabi