Lightly spiced crispy pea and mint cakes

This idea came to me after seeing a delicious sounding Ottolenghi recipe in this month’s Waitrose magazine for broad bean and mint cakes. I prefer peas to broad beans generally, and they work equally well with mint, so that’s what I’ve gone for here, and obviously made them without eggs – no surprise to regular readers of my blog! Though a bit of a faff to make (you have to freeze the patties before bread-crumbing to ensure they hold together) they are so worth making. Lightly spiced and minted peas in a crisp breadcrumb, served here with my marinated mushroom skewers, and a delicate herb salad with beautiful nasturtiums and a couple of wedges of lemon. A quite delicious summer supper.

Lightly spiced crispy pea and mint cakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 4-6 cakes

  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cup fresh or frozen peas, blanched and cooled
  • 1/2-1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice combined with 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 7 mint leaves, shredded
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 slices of bread, whizzed up to make breadcrumbs
  • oat milk to dip
  • flour to coat

– Saute the shallot in the olive oil until softened, add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant.

– In a food processor (or use a potato masher) pulse the peas until roughly chopped.

– Add the shallot mix, lemon zest, spices and lemon juice mixed with cornflour. Pulse until well combined.

– Form into even sized patties (the mixture is very wet) and freeze to firm up (about 1 hour)

– Dip the half-frozen patties in flour, oat milk and then the breadcrumbs.

– Keep in the fridge until ready to use, or freeze again and partially defrost before cooking.

– Fry in sunflower oil until golden on both sides. Finish cooking in a medium oven for 10-15 minutes.

– Serve with a wedge of lemon.

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Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous

This recipe is a bit of an amalgamation between Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Green Couscous and my Guaranteed Fluffy Couscous Salad. I think the mix works perfectly, with the slight tang from my ‘basic’ couscous enhancing the herby, nutty edge given by Yotam’s recipe.

This couscous is wonderful as a salad or a side dish – if pistachios are a problem for you, use seeds instead

Gorgeous Fluffy Green Couscous (dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4 -6

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely sliced and sauteed until browned
  • 1 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped (or use seeds)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful rocket, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin oil oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

– Pour the couscous into a flat-ish bowl

– Place water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

– Once boiling, pour over the couscous. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

– Meanwhile, make a herb paste from the chopped parsley, coriander and olive oil.

– Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add the herb paste, onions and pistachios.

– Taste and add the extra lemon juice and more salt if required. Stir in the rocket.

– Serve

Passionfruit Yoyos

I’ve been fancying some passionfruit for a while – it seems to be the kind of ingredient I don’t have for ages and ages and then I just really feel like eating some. Last week, I was fortunate to finish work a bit early and went on an unsuccessful mission to find some dairy and nut-free white chocolate for Little S to use at school. I also popped into an Ottolenghi store. How I love the kind of food Yotam Ottolenghi makes, packed full of flavour, with vibrant fresh ingredients while also being beautiful to look at. I’d earlier eaten my disappointing shop-bought sandwich (very bad planning on my part!) so didn’t actually buy any of the delicacies on sale.

Browsing the beautiful products on sale and with my desire for some passionfruit I decided to make a lucys friendly foods version of Ottolenghi’s passionfruit yoyos – a kind of shortbread sandwich biscuit with a delicate passionfruit cream centre. They are quite delicious, but if I was to make them again I would perhaps add some food colouring.

Passionfruit Yoyos (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes about 20 sandwich biscuits

  • 250g dairy-free spread
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • zest of 1 clementine or orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 21/2 cups plain flour

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4

– Line 2 baking sheets with parchment

– Beat together the spread, sugar, zest and vanilla until light and fluffy.

– Sift in the flours and salt to form a very soft, but not sticky dough.

– Make large marble sized balls and place on the baking sheet (try to make an even number). Flatten with the back of a fork.

– Bake for 12 minutes

– Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before moving to a wire rack.

– Once completely cool, sandwich together with the passionfruit cream.

Passionfruit Cream (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

  • 1/4 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1 tbsp vegetable fat
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 passionfruit, pulp sieved

– Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat until light and fluffy.

– Whisk in alternate amounts of icing sugar and passionfruit pulp until it is all incorporated.

Black Pepper Tofu

I know tofu can be a challenging ingredient to many people, but I defy anyone not to be totally converted to its delights after eating this fabulous dish. This is an adaptation of a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s fabulous veggie cook book ‘Plenty’. I think he describes it as a go-to crowd pleaser, and I have to agree. There is certainly NO WAY you could eat this dish and still think that tofu is bland, boring and best avoided. When I make it for the kids I seriously cut back the spices and pepper, and my version is already pared back from Ottolenghi’s original…. his is seriously hot, spicy and peppery. Try this and you’ll certainly come back for more.

Black Pepper Tofu (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

  • 800g firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • sunflower oil to shallow fry
  • cornflour to coat the tofu (gives the crisp texture)
  • 8 shallots, finely sliced
  • 6 mild chillies, finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsps fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsps light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsps dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • 2-3 tbsps crushed black pepper
  • 5 spring onions, finely sliced for decoration

– Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

– Cube the tofu and coat in cornflour. Cook in batches in the oil until golden and crispy all over (don’t overcrowd the pan as the tofu likes to stick together!)

– Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

– Wipe out the pan.

– Add some fresh oil along with the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger. Saute until soft and slippery.

– Add the balsamic, soy sauces and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

– Stir in the black pepper.

– Place the tofu back in the pan with the sauce and stir to combine and warm through.

– Serve over plain rice and garnished with the spring onion.

My Fabulous Foodie Day Out (pilgrimage to a corner of West London)

Last Friday I had the most fabulous foodie day. My lovely brother lives in Notting Hill, so I combined a visit with a few foodie destinations. First stop was Ottolenghi for lunch. I’ve always wanted to go to Ottolenghi as Yotam is a real veggie hero these days and his food and cookbooks are just amazing. Actually eating his food surpassed any expectations – it was a truly awesome lunch, and the shop is simply stunning too. We shared a large salad box containing aubergine with green yogurt dressing, roasted carrots, roasted broccoli with chilli and garlic and wild rice with quinoa. All the dishes were packed full of fresh flavour and were a true delight to eat. And to think I would normally just grab a sandwich. We finished off with a shared vanilla cupcake which was as light as air and not tooth-achingly sweet at all. I’m certainly going back next time to try some of the other dishes, all of which looked tempting and delicious! It was a fabulous destination for a vegetarian, maybe even a vegan, but I doubt I would have been so impressed if it had to be dairy/egg/nut and sesame free.

Next, was a visit to The Spice Shop. Wow, this place smells amazing! I was in there for ages because of so much choice. The girl working there was extremely knowledgable and very helpful in helping me choose my chillis and spices. I opted for dried thyme (yum), huge and mild ancho chillis, kashmiri chillis, roasted and ground curry spices and ground cumin. Watch out for more spiced foods to come!!!

Next, a quick trip across the road on Blenheim Terrace brought me to the truly fabulous Books for Cooks. This shop is like a temple for any cookbook fanatic, it must be my favourite shop of all time! I must have been in there for at least 45 minutes, and I could have stayed for longer… It is the ultimate shop to browse in, and even serves lunches if you’d like to linger. I’ve never eaten there but my brother says it’s fabulous food (cooked from one of the cookbooks) at very reasonable prices.

I think I must already own most of their veggie cookbooks so came away with the original Ottolenghi Cookbook and the latest Fire and Knives magazine (a brilliant foodie read). Watch this space for Ottolenghi inspired dishes to come 🙂

Finally, it was a pitstop at the Coffee Plant which must sell some of the best coffee in London – miles and miles better than a Starbucks (although that isn’t hard).

It was a great day and lovely to see my brother but probably best I don’t live there – I reckon I’d spend a fortune!!