Quick and Easy Baked Vegetable Samosas

Next up this week, a really quick and easy version of Vegetable Samosas. The idea is to be able to knock these up for a quick lunch or for the kids lunch-boxes, so I am not expecting you to make your own samosa pastry. Samosa pastry is readily available in oriental supermarkets in the freezer section but I wanted to try them out with Filo.

I have been giving a lot of thought to good fats recently and I am always questioning what is the best fat to use when cooking? It is a bit of a minefield out there of information at the moment. When I was growing up they told us butter was bad and margarine was best. Now there has been a complete reversal of opinion apart from, rather worryingly, the NHS.

This time it was a tossup between butter and coconut oil. Olive oil, my usual oil of choice, was not appropriate for samosas and I am very anti-vegetable oil. Health wise, butter and coconut oil are both in a similar boat. Once considered bad boys for their high content of saturated fat, (coconut oil has a much higher ration of saturated fat to butter) opinion seems to have changed. It is now considered that it is more important that they are low in omega 6, compared to vegetable oils which are very high. Our bodies need Omega 6 and Omega 3 but in equal ratios. Unfortunately, we are consuming far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 and vegetable oil is the main culprit. I now try and use primarily olive oil (high in omega 3), then butter (grass fed cows are also a good source of Omega 3) and finally coconut oil which contains no Omega 3, but neither does it contain Omega 6 and it can withstand high heats and adds a great flavour. Just use them in small amounts!

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to use Coconut oil for flavour BUT to bake my samosas instead of frying, to dramatically reduce the amount of oil I was using.

Finally, a note on frozen peas. I know I shouldn’t be telling all you seasonal veg enthusiasts, striving to eat fresh and local produce but to me, a samosa needs peas, even in the winter. But you can add any vegetables you like.

Samosas

Vegetable Samosas
If cooking for the kids, omit the chilli. To avoid any bad fats, you might want to make your own pastry.
Coconut oil
400 g Maris Piper (or similar floury) potatoes
250 g cauliflower
125 g frozen peas
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Large knob of fresh ginger
1 fresh green chilli
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
½ a lemon, juice from
Bunch of fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes into rough 1cm chunks. Break the cauliflower into similar sized florets as the potato. Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. When nearly cooked, about 8 minutes, add the, adding the cauliflower and after a further 3 minutes add the peas. Bring back to the boil and cook for a final minute, then drain.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic and grate finely. Scrape the skin off the the ginger and finely grate. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Heat some coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until translucent and pale. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and the spices and a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute or two more and add the drained vegetables. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Stir in the chopped coriander. Taste again. Add more spices or chilli to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lightly grease a large baking tray with oil.

Lay out the filo pastry and cut it in half lengthways. Take your first sheet and brush with some melted coconut oil. Spoon in the filling right down one end and fold over in triangular turns until you reach the other end. (Please see youtube link.) Finally brush with a little more coconut oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through. Serve straightaway if possible.

Making Samosas 4

Making Samosas 3

Making Samosas

Making Samosas 2

Soba Buckwheat Noodle Miso Soup with Squash, Cauliflower & Mixed Seeds

My personal diet message to myself as I get older is all about re-hydration. There is no doubt as we age everything: our hair and nails and skin gets drier and moisturising from the inside as well as the outside can really help.  We are used to rubbing fatty moisturisers into our skin, but this is constantly at attack from the environment, so it would seem that it might be more effective to put the fats inside you so that your body can do the job of lubricating you itself. Of course I mean good fats rather than bad fats, namely Omega 3 fats, essential fatty acids. I think we all panic at this word, imagining that we have to consume bucket loads of sardines and mackerel to achieve our daily quota, but whilst fatty fish is clearly good for you all sorts of vegetables, seeds and nuts are also excellent sources.

Here are a few to try and include in your diet
Flaxseeds
Walnuts
Beef
Brussel Sprouts
Cauliflower
Winter Squash
Broccoli
Kale
Spinach
Green Beans
Parsley

I really like this miso broth. It is clean and restorative. You can add all sorts of vegetables that you want, preferably from the list above and then you know it is going to be super good for you!

Soba Noodle Soup 2

Soba Buckwheat Noodle Miso Soup with Squash, Cauliflower & Mixed Seeds
100g per person Soba Buckwheat Noodles(Try Clearspring or Yataka )
½ a Squash or a piece of pumpkin (Sweet Mama, Butternut, Acorn)
½ Cauliflower
Sunflower Oil
Seeds (Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Black Sesame etc)
Organic Barley or Brown Rice Miso (Try Clearspring or Yutaka)
Sesame Oil
Large knob of Ginger, grated preferably on a Microplaner
1 clove garlic, grated preferably on a Microplaner
Fresh Red Chilli, Very finely chopped
Fresh Lime Juice or Pon Zu

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Peel and cut your pumpkin or squash into 1cms chunks. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets. Add the noodles, cauliflower and squash to the boiling water and cook until the noodles are completely cooked. They should no longer taste floury. Drain well in a colander and then toss in some sesame oil.  In the same saucepan fry the garlic, ginger and chilli in a little sunflower oil for a few a few minutes. Add a litre of water and a couple of tablespoons of miso to taste. When you have got a really delicious tasting broth add the noodles and vegetables back in with a good squeeze of lime to taste, Do not boil as this will kill the active enzymes in the miso. Scatter with seeds and serve.

Soba Noodle Soup 3

Harissa Roast Vegetables with Coriander and Preserved Lemon Cous Cous & Tahini

This week I opted for a medium veg box less roots, and I have to say, I haven’t been quite so excited about my vegetable selection for a while. Sometimes I struggle for inspiration, for what to conjure up with yet more vegetables, but this week I could have used up my box three times over. The sight of parsnips and Brussel sprouts fills me with joy and is one of the few things I really look forwards to about winter – shorter days, central heating, layers of clothes, colds, mud and rain – no thank you but seasonal winter vegetables, being earthed up after a whole summer in the ground – now that’s a treat.

I started by putting nearly the whole box in one dish. A Moroccan inspired Harissa Roast Vegetables with Coriander and Preserved Lemon Cous Cous. I put in the red onions, the parsnips, the aubergine, the cauliflower and the courgettes. Then I threw in half a butternut squash I had left after making last week’s muffin. Had I had carrots, sweet potato or peppers in my box, they would have gone in too. You could serve this with Cauliflower Cous Cous, my obsession of the last few weeks but this week I was yearning for the real thing.

When it comes to Harissa, they vary in heat, so be careful. My favourite is Rose Harissa which is packed with flavour, without being overtly hot, so you can use generously.

Roast Veg in Tray

Harissa Roast Vegetables with Coriander and Preserved Lemon Cous Cous & Tahini
Serves 4
½ butternut squash, squash into bite-size pieces (you can leave skin on the squash, it’s up to you).
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into large bite-sized chunks
3 courgettes, thickly sliced 1 ½ cms
½ cauliflower broken in to large florets, each cut in half
4 garlic cloves, leave skin on
2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges through the root
1 aubergine, cut into large bite-sized chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Ras el Hanuot
2 tbsp harissa paste
6 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. Tahini
1 lemon
200g couscous
Bunch of fresh coriander
4 small preserved lemons, seeds removed and finely chopped
Sea salt

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the harissa with 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the Ras el Hanout and the cumin seeds. Add a teaspoon of salt. Use this to coat the vegetables before roasting. It is important that they have enough room, spread out on baking trays. Some veg, such as courgettes and aubergines benefit from having a tray to themselves if you want to make sure they brown. Root vegetables such as parsnips and squash which cook in similar times can share a tray. They cauliflower, onions and garlic cloves go together on another. Roast for 15 minutes before checking and moving around the veg to ensure even cooking. Check again after another 15 minutes and remove or give longer. They should all be golden brown and tender.

Meanwhile, make the Tahini dressing by very simply adding the juice of half a lemon to the Tahini with a large pinch of salt. Stir in enough water to make a smooth, creamy consistency. Check seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

Meanwhile put couscous into a large bowl and put the kettle on. Mix the final tablespoon of olive oil in with the cous cous and a large pinch of salt. Massage the oil into the cous cous and then cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 mins. Fluff up with a fork.

Meanwhile, chop your coriander and preserved lemons and add to the cous cous when ready. When the roast veg are ready, toss together, check seasoning and pile onto of the cous cous. Drizzle with the Tahini sauce.

Cous cous

Aubergine, Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Curry with Cauliflower and Coconut Rice

I actually managed to get away for half-term but returning to the hell of the school run, now that the clocks have changed and it is darker and gloomier, soon knocked any feelings of recuperation out of me. With winter setting in, I am turning to more warming, comforting suppers and nothing cheers me up more than I good curry. The autumn vegetables at this time of year really lend themselves to Indian food and I like to roast them to cut down on oil and keep more texture. However, because the ingredients are cooked separately it is important to let the finished curry sit for a while to allow the flavours to infuse. It is even better the next day.

Following my theme of the last few weeks, I have carried on experimenting with cauliflower, this time serving my curry with “cauliflower rice.” You can add all sorts to your cauliflower rice. For this Indian version, I particularly like the addition of the coconut oil but as I was serving it with curry, I let it at that. But you can turn it into a dish in its own right by adding amongst other things, onions, cumin seeds, chilli, ginger, garlic or herbs such as coriander.

It might even be nice to try versions from other countries. How about a Spanish version with Chorizo and peppers. Watch this space!

Roast aubergine

Aubergine, Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Curry
Coconut oil
3 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 aubergines, cut into 1” chunks
1 head of cauliflower, large outer leaves removed
3 garlic cloves
Large knob of garlic
1-2 fresh red or green chilli
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp cardamom seeds, (not pods) freshly ground in a pepper-mill (try a good Indian or health food shop)
2 large handfuls of perpetual spinach (or 1 large handful of true spinach)
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin plum tomatoes
Large bunch of fresh coriander, washed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C. In a heavy bottomed saucepan gently fry the onions in some coconut oil for about 15-20 minutes until really soft and just light golden brown. Meanwhile toss your aubergine in some oil, season with salt and pepper and lay out on a baking sheet, lined with grease-proof paper, with plenty of room to allow it to cook evenly. Roast in the oven until golden brown, about 35 minute. Redistribute from time to time.

Remove the core of the cauliflower and break or cut into even sized florets. You can use the small inner leaves. Do exactly the same with the cauliflower as the aubergine.

Roast Cauliflower

Meanwhile scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the skin. Apparently the most nutritious layer of the ginger is just under the skin, so do this carefully. Grate finely. Peel the garlic and grate finely as well. Cut the chillies in half and remove the seeds. Finely chop. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli (only add one chilli to start with. You can always add more but you cannot take away once it is in.) Cook for one minute more and add the spices. Fry for one minute before adding the tin of tomatoes. Refill the tin with water and add too. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Add the drained tin of chickpeas. Allow to gently bubble away for at least half an hour. Check the seasoning.

Meanwhile if using perpetual spinach, remove the leaves from the stems and blanch the leaves in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to dry, spread out on a tea towel. When the cauliflower and aubergine is cooked add to the tomato base. Use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water in the spinach and roughly chop. Add to the curry with the coriander, stir well and allow to sit for at least half an hour, whilst you cook your rice, before serving.

Cauliflower cous cous

Cauliflower Rice
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Sea salt

Using a food processor, whiz up the cauliflower until evenly all very finely chopped. You can use a grater to do this instead. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the cauliflower. Season with sea salt. Cook, stirring regularly until the cauliflower is tender. The releasing moisture from the cauliflower will gently steam it. Do not allow to colour.

Aubergines

Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ with Preserved Lemons

Finally, for this week, I am still experimenting with the cauliflower! I know that we are going to get a lot of cauliflowers in those boxes for the next few weeks and in terms of vegetables replacing carbohydrates, which is quite trendy right now, it is one of the most versatile. Last week I made cauliflower mash and this week I tried out one of my favourite Lebanese salads “Tabbouleh.” The cauliflower replaces the customary Bulgur wheat so it is great for Celiacs too. The main thing to remember though, when making this salad is that it is the herbs which make up bulk of this dish and it is important to get the quantities right so don’t use too much cauliflower. It should be lovely, fresh and herby and I added some preserved lemons for added zing and some pomegranate seeds to mine as well. Preserved lemons are easy to buy now a days, the excellent Belazu brand probably being the most readily available. If, however you have a glut of lemons, and they are just in season and at their best right now, and fancy making your own just follow the link.

Tabbouleh

Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ with Preserved Lemons

4 small preserved lemons and their juice
2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch dill, roughly chopped
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
½ a small red onion, very finely diced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cucumber, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and finely dice
4 tomatoes, remove the seeds and finely dice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Hold the cauliflower by its base and roughly grate the florets on the largest holes of a cheese grater resembling cooked bulgur wheat. A food processor is also great for this.

In a large bowl put all the chopped herbs and the onion. Cut the preserved lemons in half and remove the seeds. Chop them up and add the herbs. Add a good amount of the juice from the jar and some extra virgin olive oil. Add the cucumber and tomato, some salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more lemon etc. Finally add the cauliflower, stir well and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds if using and serve at once.

Cauliflower cous cous

Cauliflower Mash

Finally for this week, a low carb mash for those of you trying to avoid the potatoes, which is so delicious that even if you are not on diet you should give it a go. There are a lot of recipes out there at the moment using vegetables in all sorts of cleaver ways to replace carbs – courgette spaghetti, Portobello mushrooms instead of burger buns, cauliflower pizza crust or cauliflower rice to name but a few. But cauliflower mash, or puree as it was then called made it quite big in the top ranking culinary world several years back. Served in Michelin stared restaurants with toasted scallops, vanilla or truffle oil. Any which way, it is super easy to make and very delicious so give it a go.

Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower Mash
1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons (36g) unsalted butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pull the leaves off the cauliflower and cut out the core in a kind of cone-shaped section. Then pull the florets off the head with your fingers, using a knife when you need to. Break or cut the florets into smaller, regular pieces (about 1 1/2 inch) and steam them. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan and rest the cauliflower florets on a steamer insert, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until you can poke a paring knife into the stems and you can feel that there’s still a little texture there. Remove the cauliflower and the keep the liquid. Add the cauliflower back to the saucepan and add a little of the cooking liquid. Using a hand-blender, purée until smooth. (You can use a liquidiser.) You’ll need to stop and scrape and stir the purée a few times; add more liquid as you need to, but add as little liquid as you can get away with. Next add in the butter, salt, and puree again. Taste for seasoning and serve hot. (You can reheat over low heat in the same pan if you’re not eating immediately.)

Cauliflower hiding