Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

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Serves four:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin powder
750 ml/3 cups water
1 cube vegetable stock
1 tsp curry powder
1 medium cauliflower, raw, broken into florets
400 g chickpeas, cooked or canned, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp cilantro, fresh

Gently sauté the onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, turmeric and cumin powder and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.

Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and bring up to the boil. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Transfer half the soup to a bowl and blend the rest until smooth. Return what has not been blended to the pan and add the cilantro. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the soup is piping hot. Season to taste.

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Lean Baked Falafels

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Serves 4 people:

For the falafels:
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped, parsley can be used instead
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 cup plain flour
salt

For the dressing:
1/2 cup low-fat natural yoghurt
1 tbs tahini
2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Place chickpeas, onion, garlic, salt and spices in a food processor and process until combined. Add bicarbonate of soda and flour and pulse again until combined. Shape mixture into 12 patties and let stand for 15 minutes.

Place the falafels on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake turning occasionally for 25 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile whisk yoghurt, tahini and lemon in a small bowl.

Serve with cubed tomatoes and cucumber as well as pita bread.

This WW recipe eliminates deep-frying. Thus you end up with a healthier dish while retaining the lovely flavours of more traditional falafels.

Spicy Rice and Kidney Beans

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1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
120 g of basmati or jasmine rice
25 cl of vegetable stock
200 g canned diced tomatoes
200 g canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
fresh coriander, finely chopped

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pan or pot for 5 minutes or until soft. Add spices. Add rice and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.

Add stock and tomatoes. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Add red kidney beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Season to taste and serve and sprinkle with coriander.

Making Paneer

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Having yet another long weekend (Whitsun Monday is a national holiday over here) is wonderful, except when it pours. The weather was so dismal yesterday that walking was out of the question – and believe me I have walked in the rain before.

One way for me to keep busy, when I am not reading, is cooking. So I made Paneer, for the first time.

To be honest, I had no intention of making Paneer when I set out to cook. During my holiday in Hong Kong I had eaten a lovely Paneer Curry based on an Indian recipe. Since I had been given a recipe that looked authentic as it came from an Indian family, I had been tempted to make it again at home. Except that it is impossible to find Paneer on this side of the English Channel so I had used tofu instead.

I can’t possibly be the only one who is not overtly fond of the bland and chewy stuff – if you like it and know how to hide both the taste and the texture, feel free to add suggestions and links in the comment section. Therefore I decided to try the curry again but without tofu. I searched the Internet for an acceptable substitute for paneer but to no avail. What I found though were numerous posts where different people mentioned how easy it is to make homemade Paneer.

Who doesn’t like a little challenge on a rainy Sunday? I then resolved to try, using the wikihow link. I just followed the various steps with only minor changes and it worked.

I used half a litre of semi-skimmed milk instead of the recommended one litre. I had just opened a bottle to top up a cup of tea and always find that small failure are less damaging for the ego than big ones! I then played it by ear, or rather by eye, to bring the milk to boiling point since I do not have a food thermometer and then added lemon juice.

Since I did not have cheesecloth and still have no idea where I can find it – here again suggestions are welcomed – I used two layers of gauze sponges to strain the mixture and was glad I only had half a litre of curdled milk to strain.

I then put it in the fridge for the night and since it had only yielded 100 g of Paneer (weight was something the website had not mentioned), I added it to egg curry and ate it with homemade Indian flatbread. In the end, it proved to be much better than tofu and yes, making Paneer is easy!

Fruity Red Lentil Curry

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Serves two:

1 glass red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp curry powder or paste
5 dried apricots, cubed
1/2 cup of frozen spinach
1/2 glass of coconut milk
fresh coriander, chopped

Put together in a saucepan the lentils, onion, curry and apricots. Cover with two glasses of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the spinach and coconut milk. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with coriander.

Serve with Basmati rice or naan bread.

Vegetable Cakes

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Being away from home is a good opportunity to eat new dishes. Here is a lovely and healthy recipe for vegetable cakes we ate last night.

500g courgettes
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs
100g grated cheese
4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chives
salt and pepper

Dice the courgettes and the peppers. Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes.

Sauté all the vegetables in a frying pan in the olive oil for 20 minutes. Season to taste. Drain if necessary.

Beat the eggs, add the milk and grated cheese. Season too. Add the vegetable mixture.

Pour into a muffin tray and bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

Leek Oatmeal Loaf

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Simple and quick veggie loaf for a lazy evening meal accompanied by a salad. Leftovers can be taken to work and eaten cold the next day.

3-4 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
100gr rolled oats
1 glass milk or oat milk
3 beaten eggs
50-100gr grated cheese, depending on taste – Cheddar or Gruyère are fine
nutmeg (optional)
salt and pepper

Sauté the leeks in olive oil. Cover the pan and cook for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile put the rolled oats in a bowl and cover with the milk. When the oats have absorbed the milk, add the beaten eggs and grated cheese. Add the leeks and nutmeg and season to taste.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C or 380°F for 30-35 minutes. Loosen sides and invert onto a plate to serve.

Serve on its own or with tomato sauce.

Red Lentil Cream Soup

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Easy and lovely soup for cold evenings.

Serves four people

400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
150 g red lentils
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp curry powder
200 ml organic rice cream

Pour the tomatoes into a saucepan, add the lentils and onion. Add with water until the lentils are fully covered. Season with curry powder and salt.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the organic rice cream and blend the soup using a hand blender until smooth. Warm up and serve immediately.

More lentil soups:
Carrot and Red Lentil Soup
Spicy Lentil & Tomato Soup
Curried Winter Squash Soup with Red Lentil and Coconut Milk

Pesach Post 4 – Recipe and Links

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Being the lucky owner of Jerusalem, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook, I thought I’d try out some of the recipes from this lovely book with Pesach in mind. Here is a slightly adapted version of ‘Za’atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese:

6 medium beetroots (1 1/2 pounds), trimmed
1/2 small garlic clove, very thinly minced (the original recipe calls for more but I tend to be very careful with raw garlic)
1 small red chile, seeded and minced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon za’atar
Salt
1/4 cup walnuts (next time I’ll try cashew nuts)
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled

Steam the beetroots for 30 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Peel the beetroots, cut into wedges and transfer to a glass bowl. Add the garlic, chile and yogurt and puree with a hand blender. Add the olive oil, honey and za’atar and puree again. Season with salt. Scrape into a shallow serving bowl. Scatter the nuts, goat cheese and on top and serve with matzah bread and sticks of raw vegetables (carrot, celery…)

Pesach links:
Pesach Is Coming – I’m So Happy!

Rabbi Leff’s Passover Guide – I like the passage about the Seder

25 Vegetarian Passover Recipes

Vegetarian Loaf

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This recipe is not suitable for Pesach but I made it yesterday and liked it so much I wanted to share it here.

Serves four people

1 cup lentils
1 small onion or shallot, sliced
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
4 1/2 oz tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh or frozen parsley
1 tablespoon fresh or frozen basil
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse lentils and cook in 2 cups of water. Simmer covered for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of the water has evaporated.

Drain and partially mash lentils. Pour into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Stir in onion, oats and cheese. Add egg, tomato sauce, celery, garlic, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spoon into greased loaf pan and smooth top with back of spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 30- 45 minutes until the top is dry, firm and golden brown.

Serve with baked potatoes, French beans or cold with a salad.