Monday, 19 January 2015

Broccoli Subzi

Would you believe I used to hate cooking?

Seriously. I was scared of the cooker.

And no wonder, given that this was first dish that my well-intentioned mum tried to teach me. Not something plain and placid like a basic stir-fry or an easy dahl, or even a stew, oh no. She started me off with the tarka technique, which means frying the spices before adding in the main ingredients to get them to release the flavour. Which is sometimes problematic anyway due to the increased likelihood of burning the spices. Add the only seeds that leap out of the pan and burn you in the face, and you're onto a winner.

Needless to say, I spent most of these early lessons cowering under the table saying mum can you just do it and I'll learn to cook later if I absolutely have to.

And hey ho, I did. They say that your mum's cooking will always taste the best to you, because its what you grow up on: whilst this may not exactly scream "COMFORT FOOD," as a result, that's exactly what it is! The inclusion of dried fruit, apparently a very Maharashtrian thing, creates a delightfully sweet and salty mix of flavours. You can switch up the fruit, nuts, and spices to your heart's content. Throw in some coconut, or one of those pre-mixed nut and fruit bags in there if you want - I know my mum often did! Dishes like these probably very on established my love for savoury-sweet combinations as of today.

The tarka step is essential - it really does intensify the flavour by 10x. Unless you're hardcore like mother Tilak, just do what I do and cover the pan while the seeds are bursting. (And stand back.)

I enjoy this dish most with hot buttered pita bread and sweet pickle, as I used to eat it growing up, but it will go nicely with toast and hummus, or as a side to a rice and curry dish - anything really!

Broccoli Subzi

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side)
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped and steamed for 5 minutes
  • handful of nuts (I like to use a mixture of cashews and almonds best)
  • handful of rasins
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
1. Heat some oil of choice in a wok. When the oil is piping hot, drop in the mustard seeds, and cover immediately. Wait till most of the seeds have popped, then:
2. Immediately add all the other ingredients.
3. Lower the heat to medium and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Cook until desired softness is reached.
5. Adjust seasonings as required, and serve!
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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Melt-in-the-mouth Sprouts n' Squash

Ok ok, so this post has no pictures, thats ridiculous, how can I possibly expect anyone to even look at it, I know. It's especially ridiculous as this recipe is so good that I have in fact made it twice and still not managed to snap it, due to either being too busy or too desperate to stuff the result in my gob.

You'll just have to trust me.

I wanted to put it up now rather than putting it on the "waiting for photographs," list (though I will try and snap it next time I make it!) because its so appropriately post-Christmas. You may still have sprouts hanging around or presenting themselves to you on offer in supermarkets. It's a minimim-effort, maximum-deliciousness side dish so you can still eat a little fancily even now that you inevitably have tonnes of work and commitments to burrow through that you let stack up over the holidays.

Melt-in-the-mouth Sprouts n' Squash

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 45 mins - 1 hour
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side)
  • 2 bags sprouts
  • 1 bag cubed butternut squash
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Generous chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
1. Pre-heat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Trim and halve sprouts, and peel garlic cloves.
3. Mix all ingredients together and spread out on the tray.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking and stirring every now and then.

Notes: Random fact: This goes amazingly well with VBites cranberry bites, to the extent that I’d throw one into the oven just to pair with the other! Highly recommended:D
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Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year! (Featured blogger recipes and plans for 2015!)

Christmas spread - links to some of of the recipes below!

Late I know, but better than never, right?

Been busy (aren't we all at this time of year?) As usual, Christmas was a teensy quiet untraditional affair, just the three of us. My mum and I did the cooking whilst my sister cleared the living room of the present carnage. I used the opportunity to test out some blogger recipes.

My main dish in the middle was closely inspired by Emma's stuffed peppers recipe - I used all quinoa because my sister can't stand lentils, and I also cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth and generally mucked about with it - its a really versatile, useful recipe. The peppers themselves actually taste really good too, which isn't always the case with stuffed pepper recipes.

I also provided a side, Natalie's brilliant vegan "pigs in blankets," just to the left of the stuffed peppers in the above picture. I have to admit, I was initially dubious about the success of this recipe because my Christmas Eve mixture was SO wet it was unshapeable (I must have weighed something wrong...) and I had to add a mountain more flour before it was possible to form a rollable, tinfoil-twistable lump. Thankfully I didn't spend forever doing this, since my sister was helping me, and we steamed the lot so they were ready to go straight into the oven the next day. We ended up with basically hundreds, and continued enjoying them for days afterwards. The recipe is quite an involved process but doing it over two days like this speeds things up - and the end result is well worth the effort!

Oh yes, and I did dessert, which was mainly made for Nikita, a giant version of Dana's mini key lime pies. When I did the exact same thing with their cheesecake recipe earlier last year, it went down so well that Nikita insisted I do basically exactly the same thing for Christmas. No complaints here <3

New Years Eve was the usual drunken house party banter. Mercifully somebody took the Wii controller from me ten minutes before the bells so I couldn't spend the entire night being an antisocial nerd...

Looking back on it, 2014 has definitely been a year of massive change - for a start, marking the end of my first complete year as a vegan (I feel like I've been one forever!) Not to mention the starting up of both my blogs. This year, along with keeping these going, I'm planning to use my YouTube channel more, so its more of a vlog-type thing. That'll also make it easier to tie my various interests together without the concern of getting off-topic! I need to make the blogs look better, both with regards to photography and layout... something I've avoided thus far, but it really needs doing.

As it's my final year of uni, I'm suffering from last-minute-omg-need-to-make-this-year-count syndrome. And I have my big final dissertation to do. And as I'm studying music, that means (finally) releasing an EP. I'm doing it DIY, which is both very challenging and exciting.

On a closely related note:

I'm going to be playing at Brighton VegFest! Not on the website just yet, but its confirmed. On the Saturday at 5:00 pm. If you're in the UK, come down and say hi!

Oh yes. I also made my very first New Year's resolution, which goes by the inspiring name of Take Shorter Showers. Sadly I've already broken it.

Hope you've all had a wonderful festive season! More recipes as of next week ^^

Monday, 22 December 2014

Gingernut Tiffin

How's your Christmas preparation going? Good? Or are you in a last-minute rush where you'd like to give someone something edible, homemade, and special, but don't have the time to do it?

I've got you covered.

This tiffin is dead easy to make with under 30 minutes actual effort time. Just leave a couple of hours for the thing to chill and you're good to go. Its the perfect Christmas treat - rich, sweet, crunchy, crumbly, buttery, and ginger-y too.

I made this for a friend who has nut allergies, so I used Wowbutter spread for my take on the traditional recipe. It will work just fine with regular smooth PB too. The ginger adds a lovely subtle festive taste, especially when combined with the dried fruit.

Now, to track down the recipe I'll be using for Christmas dessert... I've been very organised this year with regards to presents but food on the day is always a last-minute haphazard affair! Happy festive season everyone :)

Gingerbutter Tiffin

by Shonalika Tilak
Ingredients (Makes 6-8 squares*)
  • 50g peanut (or other nut/seed/soya) butter
  • 5 tbsp milk (I used soya)
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tbsp cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp ginger (or more to taste)
  • 3 ½ digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 30 g golden sultanas
  • 100g dark chocolate
1. Melt the first 6 ingredients together on the stove.
2. Add remaining ingredients (apart from the chocolate) and mix well.
3. Press mixture firmly into a lined tin and chill for one hour.
4. Melt the chocolate (I use the double boiler method) and pour over mixture.
5. Re-fridge until set, another hour or so.
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*This recipe makes a highly indulgent square with a thick chocolate topping! I like it this way, but if you would rather have a thinner slice, feel free to spread the mixture out more during the pressing stage.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Middle Eastern-Italian Fusion Linguine

I'm back! Just in time for Christmas:D

This pasta was first created as a direct result of me being in student accommodation in Norway with no access to any fancy ingredients. Just veg, pasta, wine, and a giant tub of strange slightly solid hummus that we bought from a Middle Eastern supermarket - the idea of it being, I think, that you would just whisk in any additional flavours and seasonings you wanted and thin it out to your desired consistency. Basically, no blender bother.  Quite clever really.

I'd seen a recipe before for hummus in noodles, which I'd wanted to try for a while, so I figured, why not try the same in pasta? My guess was that it would serve as a great base for a thick creamy sauce, and it does. So well. I thought it would be fun to mix traditional hummus-y flavours with Italian ones, and the result is a tangy, highly unusual but quite delectable dish. The roasted bell peppers just take it over the top. Try it out!

Middle Eastern/Italian Fusion Linguine

by Shonalika Tilak
Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 2 servings dry linguine or spaghetti*
  • ¼ cup heaping basic hummus (chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt) or just use your favourite
  • ¼ cup milk (I used soya)
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 large white mushrooms
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 green chili
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice bell peppers into thin strips and cook in pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins.
2. Finely dice the remaining vegetables and sauté on a medium heat.
3. In the meantime, mix hummus, milk, white wine and chilli powder into a thick sauce.
4. Cook linguine according to packet instructions. (Salt the cooking water!)
5. When the vegetables have cooked until broken down, add the hummus sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add linguine and most of the bell peppers.
6. Serve and garnish with remaining peppers and seasoning.

* I know, I know, its not linguine in the photos. These are from  the second time I made it, which wasn't as good as the first. I genuinely think half the reason was that the pasta wasn't linguine. The flavours just don't distribute as well. So USE LINGUINE. (And definitely don't miss out the wine!)

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

(EDIT: It's just occurred to me that although I can't post recipes for a while, I can still recommend good ones! If you follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter I'll keep you posted with links to the best recipes by other bloggers I've tried. ^^)

Blog Update: I need to start with an apology for being so scatty as of late with posts. Sadly, apart from this one, you won't be seeing any more from me here until December :( It's due both to busyness and lack of equipment: the cameras I use are far away in Scotland and Norway with their respective owners. I'd love to get a proper camera of my own, but at the moment, with the limited time/facilities available for blogging, it just isn't practical... I have a glut of recipes written down and yet to be created for you though, so do come back round Christmas ;) 

Because I find it difficult to shut up, my intention is now to increase the activity on my other blog - it'll be largely text-driven due to the aforementioned lack of camera, and of course won't (usually) be anything to do with food, but its possible that for those of you are here due to an interest in veganism that extends beyond food (or perhaps you like my writing style...? ^^) the above link may be of interest, or at least a kitten-free way to kill a few minutes.

I'll leave you with this recipe. I finished it several months back but for some reason never posted it - I thought it was a cute little chunk of text so I've left it as-is. (The interchangability of sweet potato and pumpkin, though, does make this recipe fairly well-timed for post-Halloween. :P)

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Ok, so I know its the middle of summer. And I've actually got some fantastic ice-cream recipes coming up. And I'm generally really not a soup person at all. Not one bit. 

But today I was ill. Very ill. And my poor red throat wasn't happy with the idea of anything solid today for lunch, thank you very much. So I threw this together.

In keeping with my poor ickle helpless state of being, I wanted lunch to happen on the stove in five seconds flat. The majority of the cooking here is done by the oven - just pull the potatoes out, quickly fry the spices and flavourings, then blend the lot together. Smooth and comforting, with garlic, turmeric, and nutrition-rich sweet potatoes, this soup is ideal "get-well" food. Its also delicious and very filling.

Being ill isn't so bad.

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

by Shonalika Tilak
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 4 smallish sweet potatoes (500g)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can freshly boiled water (Measure in coconut can after emptying it)
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small cube of ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oven to 200C and roast potatoes for 45mins-1hr.
2. Prep vegetables. Heat oil in a pan and saute onions until soft and slightly translucent.
3. While onions are cooking, remove sweet potatoes from the oven, peel and roughly chop.
3. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon, and saute for another minute. Then add coconut milk, water, and sweet potatoes, and bring to just under boiling.
4. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and, with an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
5. Season to taste and let cool slightly before serving.
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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Caramelised Fig Ice-Cream

Figs are in season. Apparently I've been telling everyone this, but its making me stupidly happy. There's something wonderful about a sudden glut of a fruit of vegetable at certain times of year (and I'm probably still sore about the ban on Alphonso mangoes earlier). Right now everywhere is selling figs, and selling them cheaply. 4 for £1 at Sainsbury's last time I checked. 

The little purple parcels are one of my all-time favourite fruits, but they're normally so expensive and rare that I eat them exclusively whole, as a stand-alone item. I can't even bring myself to use them fresh, cut up in an elaborate salad or as a topping for something sweet, let alone throw them into a recipe in which they'll be completely mutilated with no idea whether or not the resulting concoction has been worth it. 

Good thing its fig season:D

For this recipe I've used cashew butter to add texture and creaminess. As the flavour of cashews is quite mild, this really allows the fig flavour to shine through. I've only used a little syrup to caramelise the fruit, which gives just a very subtle sweetness - this means it pairs very nicely with maple roasted almonds and a dash of extra syrup on top! 

By the way, its fig season. Go wild. And make this ice-cream:D

Caramelised Fig Ice-Cream

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 3-4 hrs
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 figs
  • 1 tsp vegan butter-type spread
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cashew butter
  • Dash of salt
  • Extra maple and maple-roasted pecans for topping (optional)
1. Slice banana and fig into small pieces.
2. Heat butter in a skillet and mix together maple, lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Once hot, add fruit, and saute for a minute before adding the maple mixture. Cook until the fruit has broken down and created a thick lumpy jam-like mixture.
3. Transfer to a bowl. Let cool slightly, then freeze for around 2 hours. Mine slipped easily out of the bowl after this amount of time - any longer and you may need to wait for it to defrost before blending. (Alternatively, you could try freezing the mixture in an ice-cube tray and just pop the cubes out.)
4. Transfer to blender along with cashew butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend, taste, and add more salt if required.
5. Transfer to a container, and freeze for at least another hour before serving.
For Maple-Roasted Pecan topping:
1. Pre-heat oven to 175C.
2. Coarsely chop pecans and coat with 1 tsp maple syrup. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 6 mins, keeping an eye on the them - when you can smell a nutty aroma, they're done.
3. Let cool for a few minutes. Scatter over ice-cream with a drizzle of extra maple.
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