Category Archives: Recipes

Make your own organic cheese, then put it on pizza toasts!

It’s really easy to make fresh cheese just with whole milk and lemon juice, a pan and a teatowel- that’s it! Follow my tutorial here to make the cheese, then before you hang it up to dry fully and shape it for cutting, nick some of the curds out to enjoy it straight away with these quick and easy pizza toasts. They’re made extra delicious with the rewarding feeling of having made the cheese yourself.

1. Take your cheese curds freshly rinsed and squeezed dry from the cheese cloth, they should look like this…

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2. Spoon some into a bowl and mix with chilli flakes, herbs and olive oil. This is also great with chopped capers and lemon zest!

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3. Cut large slices of bread

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4.  Top with tomato paste

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5. Add fresh tomato slices and sprinkle with sea salt

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6. Top with your fresh, homemade organic chilli and herb cheese

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7. Add olives then place under a hot grill for a few minutes, the cheese won’t melt but the top of the bread will toast, the cheese will brown a little and the olives will smell devine.

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8. Add fresh basil and enjoy!

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Making organic paneer

7160310722_32905aa198Today I made myself some cheese! This recipe is easy peasy, there’s no rennet, and you don’t need anything but fresh organic whole milk and something acidic (vinegar, lemon or lime juice). I set out to make Paneer, but stopped before shaping the cheese curds to enjoy some ricotta-like cheese with chilli flakes, herbs and olive oil.

This Indian cheese (Paneer) isn’t mature or ‘cheesy’ tasting, it’s very plain and doesn’t melt, this is because with matured cheese, like cheddar, rennet is added which further breaks down the proteins in the curd, forming a single mass which matures over time and melts under heat. Paneer doesn’t include rennet (from India, this cheese can be consumed by the vegetarian hindu population of the country) so it doesn’t mature well and doesn’t melt. But it does make a great creamy fresh background for strong flavours like curry, chilli or oregano.

So what’s the advantage of making your own paneer? Well first of all it’s fun, secondly it’s cheap (4  pints of milk makes a good bit of paneer and at only £1.69 for 4 pints of organic wholemilk, I think it’s at least £1 cheaper than the same cheese in the shops), thirdly it means you can make your cheese organic- I’ve never seen organic paneer in the shops.

So here’s how you make it, AND how to use it straight away on tasty pizza slices!

So you need:

4 pints of whole organic milk

Between 100 and 140ml of acid (vinegar, lemon of lime juice- I recommend the most tasteless, so rice vinegar or similar is good).

Here’s what you do:

Put the milk in a large pan

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Heat the milk until boiling and then turn it down to a simmer.

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Add the lemon juice or vinegar,  in small amounts until the white cheese curds split away from the green whey, don’t add more acid than you need to, just because you don’t want the strong lemony or vinegary flavour. It’s worth mentioning it looks gross at this point but don’t let you put that off.

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Drain the curds through a cheesecloth or piece of muslin, squeeze out all the whey you can (don’t spend a lot of money, a clean teatowel or piece of sheet is fine). It’ll look like this…

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Rinse the cheese curds in the cheesecloth to get rid of any acidic flavour,  then tie the cheese cloth into a parcel and rinse the cheese again, or soak the cheese in cold water, just to get all the lemon/lime/vinegar out.

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Squeeze the cheese again to get out as much liquid as possible.

Now it should look like this, soft crumbly curds.

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At this point hang the cheese up to drip out the last of the liquid.

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When the cheese has been hanging for a few hours and most of the moisture is gone, cut open the parcels, shape the cheesecloths with the curds inside into a block shape and wrap in more cheesecloth if available. Then squash with something heavy to form the cheese into a block.

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My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

Before hanging it up, if you just can’t wait- nick a few of those curds out and add dried chilli flakes, dried herbs and olive oil, you can eat this smeared on bread or make into tasty pizza slices (see my post HERE 🙂 )

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Red Cabbage and Yogurt Salad

So Jamie Oliver made this as a coleslaw with finely grated mixed cabbages and mustard to have with bean burgers, I liked it so much I added more yogurt and made it a little chunkier to enjoy as a yogurty raita style accompaniment to have with curry.  The amazing thing about this salad is the colour of it and the point where it changes colour…amazing.

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ingredients for the cabbage raita/slaw:

-1/4 of a large red cabbage finely sliced in the food processor (or by hand) or grated with a box grater for a finer texture.

-1 small red onion, finely sliced

-A tablespoon of chopped, fresh coriander

-The juice of half a lemon

-A big pot of fat-free  Greek yogurt

So you dice up the cabbage and onion, place in a bowl and squeeze the lemon over, you’ll see the cabbage turn from almost blue-purple to BRIGHT RED. Red cabbage contains a natural litmus property which changes colour with different pHs, so this is pretty cool. Add yogurt to taste, more yogurty for Raita, less for slaw, mix in most of the coriander, mix together and then sprinkle the rest of the coriander on top. Voila! YUM!

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan.

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan- and two tins of stella!

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

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A tiny harvest

The pots outside our one bedroom flat (which is without garden 😦 ) are flourishing with potato, courgette and tomato plants today (the few that survived the awful beginning of the summer we’ve had that is).

Tomatoes,squash, courgettes and some scraggly peppers and dwarfed aubergines- using every square inch makes plants flourish!!!

Tomatoes (which need some shoots pulling out)

Maris P’s in a pot!

Also, our allotment, despite not being tended for about 4 weeks has produced some lovely courgettes to join the couple from our pots: F1 Tristan, Black Beauty, F1 One Ball and F1 8 Ball.

Our first harvest for the year is a small bundle of these lovely fruits!

8 ball courgette! YUM!

What a handful!

A tiny harvest

We celebrated our crop, and the lovely (short-lived) weather, with a barbeque (or two) at the allotment…pure bliss!

Chopping onions for the veggie burgers

Our homemade BBQ- a shopping basket, some bricks and coals- with halloumi kebabs and Quorn best of british sausages- nom nom

Quorn burgers, Quorn sausages, frying onion in tin foil, and halloumi and veg kebabs!

Marshmallow anyone?

Despite the poor weather these few barbeques and relaxed times have made me feel very summery indeed. To make everyone else feel a little more summery and satisfied in their agricultural endeavours in the city, you may enjoy this farm and town paper animation set to Vashti Bunyan’s Diamond Day- what could be more summery?

By the way, we used the tiny harvest to make up the layers in a delicious vegetable lasagna, where instead of a layer of bechemal sauce I make a creamy layer of courgettes cooked  in garlic, herbs and cream cheese to place in between layers of quorn mince, passata and basil.

Colourful courgettes

YUM! Part of the tiny harvest cooked

Creamy courgettes in lasagna!

Finished lasagna, topped with ricotta and spinach, then gran padano and breadcrumbs for a twist

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Chargrilled peppers with cheese and coriander

This is a bit of a titchy post about my lunch, but this was so yummy I can’t not do a quick post about it.

So we had a pretty dull array of foods in for lunch a couple of weekends ago. Some hummus, bread a few sundried tomatoes in oil and some red peppers and a few grates of low fat cheese left.

I chargrilled up the red peppers in some olive oil on my chargrill pan, and whilst they were still hot added the cheese and some fresh coriander while they were in a bowl- the results made a lovely extravagant feeling lunch with little effort.

Smushed on top of some hummus-smeared bread this was really yummy. Please excuse the big bite in the photo- I couldn’t wait to sample before taking the picture!

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Dinner last night…

…was Rice Noodles with Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cashew Nuts!

Super easy and covers all your food groups! I just toasted 100g of cashews and a few black onion seeds in a pan, added some sesame oil and fried 2 cloves of garlic and a chunk of ginger (grated), then added some chopped purple sprouting broccoli and 2 sliced orange peppers. Rice Noodles and a light sauce made of sesame and olive oil, dark soy sauce, dried chilli flakes, sweet chilli sauce and rice wine vinegar was added at the last 2 minutes of frying…voila!

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Spicing up your bean burgers!

When you’re really busy I’ve found the old freezer favourite, bean burgers, can make a really nice veggie or vegan supper with just a few additions. It’s great if you need half an hour to do something when you get in after work as all these things can all be left cooking together for 30 mins. This is also pretty healthy, the bean burgers we get from the supermarket are only ~240 calories each!

I bung the bean burgers in the oven at around 200C, alongside another roasting tray with some sliced onion (use half a red onion for this, and save half for the potato salad below) and a sliced red pepper,  coated with a little olive oil and covered with foil, this is more a more energy-efficient way to cook than frying the onions as the oven is on already- and it takes less effort.

At the same time I boil some whole small new potatoes (no need to chop) for half an hour on the hob (maybe set these boiling just before you put the burgers in).

In a mixing bowl, I combine some light mayo (you could use vegan mayo if you’re so inclined) and a little olive oil and black pepper.

Chill out while everything cooks for 30 minutes, then drain the potatoes, and add them to the mayo/onion mix and break them up a little with a fork. Assemble the burgers with the roasted pepper and onion on top (bun optional), add a few slices of avocado, and put the potato salad on the side along with some green salad.

Voila! A weeknight feast. I have the low(er) carb version above, and James partakes of the supersize option below.

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Asparagus Bread

 

Lots of people have signature dishes, one of mine is definitely Asparagus Bread. It’s a warm savoury accompaniment when baked fresh to go with pasta or pizza and just as good as a sandwich for munching on at lunch time the day after baking.

To make it I just make a normal 1/2 kilo white bread batch (500g flour, 300ml water, 5g dried yeast, 10g salt and a good slug of olive oil), knead, rise, knock back and shape the bread as normal and then push the dough into a roasting tray lined with baking paper, like focaccia. Rub all over with olive oil and garlic crushed and mixed with butter, then press in stalks of fresh asparagus, push them right into the dough, and sprinkle with grated parmesan (the cheap grated hard cheese in a canister is fine, the fine salty granules taste great and don’t melt in the oven). Bake at the highest temperature your oven will go (around 220C) until golden and makes a hollow sound when knocked. Lift out to cool on a wire rack…Voila!

I’ve found the best guide to getting perfect bread (with loads of great recipes) is the River Cottage  Handbook No.3 ‘Bread’  by Daniel Stevens- a beautiful and invaluable guide.

 

 

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Ghana Stew

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Pic by Natalie Maynor (flickr CCAL 3998726817)

I don’t know if this recipe is actually at all Ghanian, but my Grandma made it for me and she calls it Ghana Stew. I’m not sure if my recipe is the same as hers, but it’s mighty tasty and really easy to make.

I just fry a large thinly sliced onion, a thinly sliced red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic until soft in some olive oil.

Then add cumin, chilli and paprika to taste (I ground up last years home grown paprika peppers in a coffee grinder for extra tastiness!).

Add a couple of 400g cans of plum tomatoes, I smushed these up with a wooden spoon in the pot.

Let it bubble and get all soft and smushy, add as much peanut butter as you want. I use almost a whole small jar of wholenut (about 4ish heaped tablespoons)

Then add three parboiled (or par-microwaved) chopped sweet potatos.

Let it simmer until the sweet potatos are soft and serve with crunchy bread!

A thrifty protein-filled vegan treat!

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Not much to look at but very tasty! Excuse the messy bowl!

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Gnocchi with Chargrilled Marinated Aubergine

For tonight’s dinner I made gnocchi in a red wine tomato sauce with chargrilled marinated aubergine and green olives. I’ll put the gnocchi and ragu recipes up here shortly but wanted to write a quick post about the aubergine because it was pretty spectacular if I don’t say so myself!

So I sliced the aubergine into long strips then marinated it in a marinade of 4 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of chopped chillies and a good glug of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar (quite a lot of balsamic and soy is required to get a rich flavour) and olive oil, half a teaspoon of dried sage and half a teaspoon of dried basil. I then added some water to make this into a sloshy marinade, and poured over the aubergine strips. They didn’t marinade for long only about 15 mins as I was pottering around the kitchen preparing the other items.

I heated my cast iron chargrill pan and coated it in olive oil.

I seared the aubergine strips on each side before pouring over some of the marinade into the hot pan, letting is steam and bubble off then allowing the aubergine to sear again. I took the aubergine out of the pan as I cooked the gnocchi.

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Cooking off the marinade!

Very delicious!

The final dish!

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