Green curry paste

It seems every spring my mind turns to green curry!  This is my Green curry paste recipe, Mark 2, lol.  More ingredients, more depth of flavour plus vegan friendly.  An upgrade of last year’s recipe with less chilli, more ginger and kaffir, a combo of citrus juices plus oils and the addition of delicious adaptogenic and anti inflammatory holy basil.  In fact there are loads of anti inflammatory benefits in this mix.  And just look at the amazing zingy colour!

I love the fact that this recipe is simply the sum of it’s parts. No complicated prep, just some slicing, grating and squeezing.   Saying that, if you want to use whole coriander and cumin seed rather than powder then it’s best to heat them first in a pan to release flavour and aroma before crushing them in a mortar.   I used the powdered forms and they still added their distinctive flavours to the whole.

Last week I made fish cakes with some of the paste, so scrummy we had a repeat yesterday when two friends came over for an early outdoor supper.  (Great to have some Covid restrictions now lifting here in UK.  Long may it last).

You could use the paste as part of a veg curry sauce, with or without coconut milk, or marinate chicken pieces in that luscious green.  Lots of options but I’ll post my fishcake version in the coming week.
It only took about 10 minutes to prepare the paste and 5 minutes to mix ‘n blitz.  It’ll keep in the fridge for a few weeks and is freezer-friendly, hooray!

 

Ingredients:

Makes 6 or 7 tablespoons (give or take the amount of coriander you choose to use)

1 tsp cumin powder (or seed)
1/2 tsp ground pepper ( ” )
1/2 tsp coriander powder ( ” )
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric (or 1 tbsp fresh, grated)
6 small or 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 stalks lemongrass (tips off, outer layer off as well if very tough.  Halve and finely chop)
2 tbsps chopped ginger
2-3 hot green chilli, halved, seeds removed and finely sliced, or 1/2-1 tsp dried
3 spring onions, green part only chopped
2 large soft kaffir limes leaves (the dried leaves are hard to blend and can ruin a paste unless you fully remove the leaf’s midrib (central vein) and then very finely slice the green parts, the leaf lamina.  If you can find soft leaves it’s so much easier!)
3 tbsp lemon juice
Zest and juice of a lime
a small bunch of coriander with some stem (about 15-20 leafy stems, give or take)
c 4 stems of holy basil, shredded leaves only
2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
A little water if it’s too congested at the end

Method:

If you want to use seeds for the coriander, cumin and pepper, toast these in a pan first until fragrant then crush with your pestle and add to the rest.

I used a hand-held blender to mix all the ingredients.  Coriander leaves and some stem, basil leaves, kaffir leaves, green chilli, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, spring onion, coriander, cumin, pepper, turmeric, sea salt, lemon and lime juice, lime zest, the oils, and then, right at the end, a dash of water to thin it slightly.
Do a quick taste test.  Add a little more salt or chilli for more kick if you want, or sesame oil or whatever flavours you’d like to taste more of.
The taste is supposed to be strong as it’s carrying most of the flavour for your veg curry or fish cakes.

Enjoy x

 

 

 

 

Asian-style soup

This is my wellness soup.  I’m such a fan of zingy fresh spices like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and ginger.  If I want a comfort soup this is it.  All the more so if adding chicken, with its high tryptophan, an amino acid that’s the precursor to our feel-good serotonin.
The soup can actually be anything you want.  Vegan, pescatarian or a good ‘ole chicken soup with an Asian swing to it.  Here are some options for you to try.

Ingredients

4 servings

Spices for the broth:

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp grated or ground turmeric
1 heaped tbsp brown miso paste
1 crushed, then finely sliced lemon grass
5 dried kaffir lime leaves, crushed with stems removed
4 cms fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1.5 litres veg broth or water

*If doing a veg-only soup, ie. no marinade, add c4 tbsp tamari, 1/2 cup chopped coriander, 3 crushed garlic cloves and, if you want a kick, some chilli flakes to the above.  Also more veg broth to compensate for not having the fish/chicken liquid marinade to add to the pot.

The vegetables:

1/2 leek, sliced
150 g brussel sprouts, halved
200g broccoli florets
100g green beans, halved
100g mangetout or sugar snap peas
large handful spinach, shredded
another generous one of kale, finely shredded
4 mini bok choy (or 4 large if you can’t get minis)
olive oil to start the stir fry
sesame oil to drizzle at the very end
chopped coriander to decorate
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

The optional chicken or salmon:

3 fillets free range or organic chicken, cut into chunks or thick slices
OR
3 wild salmon fillets, whole

Marinate the chicken or fish for at least 4 hours in:
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/4 tsp dried chilli
1 tsp garam masala
3 crushed garlic
4-5 tbsp tamari
plus enough veg broth to cover the chicken/fish.

Method:

If I’m making my soup with either salmon or the chicken slices, I poach them first.  That way I can remove the fish skin easily and break it into smaller pieces, put aside and focus on the soup and veg.  You can of course poach whilst making the veg broth, whatever works for you.

Gently fry the leek in olive oil on a medium heat until soft.  Add all the spices, stirring well.
Pour in the vegetable broth plus the chicken/fish marinade [or the additions mentioned above for the  *veg-only].
Bring to the boil then simmer.
Add the vegetables to the broth, starting with the halved brussels which may take longer depending on size, then the beans and broccoli.  After simmering about 6-8 minutes (check the sprouts aren’t still rock hard), add the mangetout, bok choy, kale and spinach which only need a bat of an eyelid to wilt.  Now find room for the cooked chicken or salmon!

Serve in deep bowls, drizzle with sesame oil and top with chopped coriander and a wedge of lime, yumm!

Fava or split pea mash

Greek fava is delicious alongside a selection of meze or as a dip with bread or carrot sticks, or a replacement for your mashed potato.  Versatile or what!?
Made of yellow (or red) split peas, fava originates from Santorini where the peas grow well on the island’s rich volcanic soil.  These days we can find dried split peas in health food shops and most supermarkets.  Easy to keep in your larder and have at hand when you’re wondering what to cook that night.

I tend to soak the split peas for at least four hours even though they’re more easily digested than larger dried beans – just habit from working with clients who can’t tolerate pulses.
I love fava with caramelised onion on top or with capers – or both.  There are so many variations, it’s one of those taste-and-decide recipes, as you can tell by some of the options I’ve suggested below 🙂
You can blend it super smooth or mash it to whatever texture your taste buds like.  It’s a super easy & delicious recipe, so I hope you try it out.

Ingredients:
For 4

250 g yellow or red split peas (soaked min 4 hours if you want to play it safe)
1/2 red onion, peeled
another onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 peeled clove garlic, & an extra to add later if you like a garlicky taste
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
squeeze of lemon juice
a smidgeon or more (or less) of ground chilli
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin oil
capers, if you like them

Method:

Sieve the split peas to remove any possible small stones then if you have the time soak overnight, but otherwise just wash well.
Put into a pot and cover with about 1″ water.
Peel your onion, chop in half and snuggle it, together with the peeled garlic clove, into the centre of your peas-in-a-pot.
Boil and skim off the white froth that will want to bubble over.  Then simmer with lid on.
When I used to try different versions of this recipe I’d often read, ‘cook for 40 mins’ but, to be honest, my split peas seem to get soft within 15-20 minutes.  This could be due to the soaking, or the peas.  However, once you’ve skimmed the scum and place on simmer, don’t head off to your desk or into the garden.  Stay close as they may be soft and ready sooner than you think, or they may need more topping up with water if they’re resolutely hard.

Meanwhile, finely slice the other 1 + 1/2 onion and gently fry in oil in a pan.  This will be your topping, so just put aside until you need it.

When the split peas are cooked and soft, blend or mash, add the squeeze of lemon, spices and taste.  If the garlic flavour has boiled away, add another fresh clove.
Make a small crater (ode to Santorini) in the middle and drizzle in some virgin olive oil and top with your caramelised onion and/or capers.
Enjoy!

Spiced carrot and red chard pancakes

This is a delicious vegan dish, a combination of shredded carrot pancakes with roasted spiced carrot – carrot upon carrot! – topped with a mint-garlic-lime juice df yoghurt.

Inspired by Nikki Webster’s scrummy recipe I added red chard to mine here below for extra colour and antioxidant goodness.  Spinach or kale, cavalo nero or even something like radicchio with its slightly sharp tang, would be delicious.  Really, the choice is yours.
Antioxidants are on my mind big-time due to my current auto immune and post-chemo clients not to mention the background noise of Covid-19, so I multiplied the antioxidant ooomph that spices offer and added lots of ginger, turmeric and garlic.

These gram spiced pancakes are a fabulous base for all sorts of other meals.  I topped them with a mixed rainbow salad last week and last night ate them with fish (cumin and garam masala rubbed on hake before grilling).
It’s so good to wriggle a recipe into the shape that suits your individual taste – and the occasion.
Have fun, and I hope you enjoy this dish 🙂

Ingredients:

Serves 2

Spiced carrots:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cms knob ginger, grated
3 medium carrots, diced into small cubes
6 large red chard leaves (I finely sliced some of the stalks as well); or 2 large handfuls of young spinach or kale, roughly chopped
250ml filtered water
4 tbsp desiccated coconut, lightly roasted
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Carrot pancakes:

140g gram flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch chilli flakes – optional of course!
80g grated carrots
handful fresh coriander, chopped
300 ml luke warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

Yoghurt Topping:

6 tbsp plain coconut- or almond-based yoghurt (I used Coconut Collaborative’s df)
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic, squeezed
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (about 5 medium leaves per tbsp) or 3 tbsp dried
sea salt to taste

Mix these together and your topping is done!

 

Method:

Carrot pancakes:

Mix all the dry ingredients, add the pressed garlic, olive oil and water.  Blend well then stir in the chopped coriander and grated carrots.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes whilst you start the carrot curry below.

To cook the pancakes, add some olive oil to your non-stick pan then use a soup ladel to pour in your mixture (you’ll figure out the size you want after the first ‘trial’ which is always a good tester for size and taste).
Once bubbles form in the pancake and the edge darkens a little, ease the spatula beneath it and turn.  After the first one your pan usually finds its mojo.
Cover with a cloth or place in a low heat oven whilst you make a total of about 8 small pancakes.

Meanwhile….

The carrot curry:

Heat the oil then add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start popping add the other spices and stir before frying the chopped onions till they soften.  Then comes the garlic and ginger followed by the diced carrots and water.  Cover and leave to simmer for about 10 mins, adding your chopped chard or greens so they wilt but don’t get cooked to nothing!

Meanwhile….dry roast the coconut in a pan until it just colours then stir it into the carrot-chard mix and season with sea salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon a generous amount onto the pancake base and dollop the mint yoghurt on top.  Add extra mint for decoration (I forgot in this photo!)

Enjoy!