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Green Beans with sesame Dressing

2 Jun

This is one of the most simple yet delicious cooked vegetable salads you can make. It is part of an immense repertoire of lightly cooked vegetables or ‘salads’ in Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite ways of eating green beans. This salad is best served at room temperature so it can be made in advance and keeps or travels well, so great for picnics or dinner with friends. Serve as a side to rice and grilled fish or with a number of small salads.

  • 250g  green beans
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan or skillet until golden brown, leave to cool then lightly crush, in a pestle and mortar, to release their flavour. Pinch off the growing end from the beans and pop into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes until the beans turn bright green and a little soft but still crisp then plunge into cold water to halt cooking and preserve their colour. Toss the beans with the soy and sesame and arrange in a serving dish. Serve at room temperature.

Cooks Note This dish can be made in advance and the salad will keep very well for a day so great for picnics or a packed lunch.

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Runner Beans in Tomatoes

22 Aug

This little dish of runner or green beans gently stewed in oil and tomatoes has long been a favourite of mine. Its origins are probably Turkish or Greek. I remember eating several variations of it in Istanbul and in Greece many years ago. Like so many Mediterranean dishes it has few ingredients but the finished result is miraculously full of flavour. Serve as a side dish or part of a mezze spread or picnic.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 30 minutes

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 150g Runner or Green beans, stalks removed
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 fat cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan, throw in the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes then add the beans and tomato. Season and stir over a high heat to coat well. Reduce heat, cover and let the beans stew in the oily tomato sauce for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom, if it does add a little more oil or water. Serve as part of a mezze or as a side dish.

COOK’S TIP To freeze French beans; wash, top and tail and plunge into boiling salted water. I use a pasta pan with a removable drainer, which makes the job much easier. As soon as the beans turn a brighter darker shade of green (3-4 minutes) drain and plunge into ice-cold water to halt cooking and preserve the colour. When cool, drain well, bag up and freeze immediately.
Gardeners Note Great for gluts of beans and tomatoes in summer but it can also be made at any time of year with frozen beans and preserved tomatoes.

Fried Rice (Indonesian)

14 Aug

In Indonesia this dish would be called Nasi Goreng. It is one of the most popular family or street foods, almost a national dish, often eaten for breakfast, made from left-overs from the night before and found on most Indonesian or malay restaurant menues in the west. The Chinese brought their fried rice dishes to Indonesia, where they adapted to local tastes; the Indonesians cook this dish in woks but it tends to be spicier and flavoured by their sweet sticky Kecap Manis. This is a great dish, adaptable to whatever you have available, and can be made with meat, shellfish, poultry, offal or kept clean and simple with no animal products at all. The only essential ingredient is cold cooked rice making it a useful way to use left-overs and an easy to prepare breakfast or delicious packed lunch.

  • Cold cooked long grain rice
  • green or spring onions
  • garlic
  • Seasoning Ketjap Manis (a sweet soy sauce and speciality of Indonesia)
  • vegetable use whatever is in season, green beans, long beans, runner beans, asparagus, chinese greens, peppers, carrots, fennel, corn, peas, mushrooms
  • protein you can use fried tofu, peanuts, chicken, prawn, pork or sausage.
  • Additional flavouring use dried prawns whole or powdered or prawn paste.

Toppings Serve with fresh vegetables such as; cucumber, cherry tomatoes, peppers or green onions and comdiments such as crispy fried onions and sambal olek (chilli paste), you can also serve topped with shredded egg omelet or hard boiled eggs.

Variations

Cooks Note If you don’t have Katjap Mannis you can make a similar product by mixing soy sauce with sugar, and a little miso paste, garlic and chinese 5 spice) or just use soy sauce and a little sugar.

Chicken Dumpling Soup (Thai)

22 May

Chicken and rice dumplings simmered in a spicy coconut broth with vegetables.

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to make  Tom Kha Gai or chicken in coconut soup but I did not have enough chicken to feed everyone so I used rice to mix with the chicken and make tasty dumplings instead.  Delicious!

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup cooked cold white rice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • garlic chives or spring/green onions
  • a splash of fish sauce
  • a splash of soy sauce or pinch of salt
  • pinch freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 red or green chilli minced (optional)
  • 1 egg white
Bung the whole lot in a food process and pulse or finely mince all the ingredients together. Take a heaped tsp at a time, shape into balls then drop into the hot broth gently. The dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked, in about 5-7 minutes.
For the soup broth
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • red chilli sliced
  • sliced galangal
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
Put the ingredients for the soup broth into a roomy pan and bring to a simmer, drop the dumplings in to cook. After 5 minutes or so add some green vegetables. As soon as the vegetables are just cooked the soup is ready to serve. Check the seasoning and add a dash of fish sauce and / or a squeeze of lime to taste, ladle into bowls and scatter with a bit of fresh coriander, a few slices of red chilli or sliced spring onions.
Variations
Vegetables Use any green vegetables for colour and flavour such as green beans, runner beans, asparagus, garden peas, broccoli, mangetout peas, cabbage or pak choi
Noodles I sometimes serve this soup over noodles to make more of a meal of it. It is best to cook the noodles seperately to ensure that they don’t get over cooked any kind of oriental noodle works well, soba, vermicelli, yellow wheat noodles or big fat rice noodles. Just put a serving into each bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tip To make your own stock simmer chicken bones with an onion, galangal, lemongrass and a few peppercorns.

Cauliflower with Lentils

1 May

This is a delicious way of cooking cauliflower in a sauce of spiced lentils known as dal or dhal in Southern Asia. The combination is subtle, savory and wonderful. You can add nuts for protein to make this a complete meal or serve as a side for a meat dish or with any number of vegetable dishes for a vegetarian feast.

Make a batch of basic dhal

  • 1 cup red hulled split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large green chillis
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seed (optional)

Wash the lentils then put into a roomy pan with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 30minutes or until the lentils are soft.

  • Half a cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel, nigella or cumin seed
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1-2 dried red chillis
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced (optional)
  • pinch asefetida (devil’s dung)
  • a small piece of ginger grated (optional)
  • 1 thinly sliced fresh green chilli (optional)

Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets. Remove the green chilli from the dal and add the cauliflower, cover and simmer slowly, meanwhile…

In a small pan or skillet heat the oil then throw in the first 5 spices, when they pop add the garlic and as soon as it starts to brown add the asefetida and pour straight into the lentils and cauliflower, stir and continue to cook until the cauliflower is just tender but still has a fresh tasting bite. Stir in a little more fresh green chilli and ginger, if using, and some fresh coriander leaf if you have any then serve.

Serve with rice or chapatis or a lamb biryani , a grilled meat dish such as masala roast chicken, or a hot meaty curry like Beef Roganjosh or with Bombay potatoes or any number of vegetable dishes such as green bean Coconut Fry  for a vegetarian feast.

Cooks Note Add spices according to your taste, you could add nigella, fennel or cumin seed or indeed all three, use green cardamom instead of black for a more floral taste and use asefetida instead of ginger for a more earthy savory taste and vary the spicing and quantity of chilli depending on what the dish will be served with.

Spiced Veg Salad (Cachumber)

12 Sep

This spiced salad of raw vegetables is known as Cachumber, Kachumber or Kachmbar in Southern India and Koshumbir or Koshimbir in Western India. These small side dishes of seasoned raw vegetables can be as simple as chopped onion seasoned with lemon and salt or a complex mixture of many vegetables and fried spices. This one is on the more complex end of the spectrum and is really delicious, it adds a lovely crunch to any meal. Choose your own variety of vegetables, whatever is in season, and feel free to experiment with other spices.

  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • Herbs; Coriander leaf (optional), garlic chives (optional)

Seasoning for 2-3 cups of vegetables

  • 1-2 tbsp descicated coconut
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Finely chop the vegetables, for this recipe i usually do about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of each vegetable, aiming for about 2-3 cups of vegetables altogether.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seed then add the coconut. Stir and lift off the heat as soon as the mustard seeds crackle and the aroma from the coconut rises. Stir the fried spices into the freshly chopped vegetables add the juice of half a lemon or more and salt to taste. Leave for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours and juices of the vegetables mingle. Serve with a little extra coconut sprinkled on top.
Variation freshly grated coconut would be great but as i cannot grow it here i keep some bought unsweetened descicated in the pantry.
For other Koshumbir type recipes have a look at:

Summer Pickle (Gujarati)

12 Sep

Crisp, fresh, summer vegetables tossed in a sour-pungent dressing of crushed mustard seeds, lemon juice, turmeric, and asafoetida. This is an instant Indian pickle that comes from Gujarat where it is also served as a salad. This pickle or salad is best made just before serving but it will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so it can be made ahead of time.

  • 2 sweet carrots
  • half a small cucumber
  • 2 – 4 hot green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes or physalis
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (Devil’s Dung)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)

Peel and cut the carrots into thin 2cm-ish batons, peel the cucumber and cut into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size slices. Put the carrots and cucumber in a bowl with the salt and set aside for 15 minutes then pour off any liquid that forms. Halve the tomatoes, slice the chillis and crush the garlic add these to the salted veg along with the rest of the ingredients toss well to coat and it is ready to serve.
Variations
Other vegetables I would use any other sweet fresh crisp vegetables including; turnips, radishes, French beans, sweetcorn.

Recipe Source
This recipe is based on the Cucumber & Carrot Pickle in Tarla Dalal’s Book Achaar aur Parathe I have changed it slightly by adding yellow cherry tomatoes and using chilli oil instead of mustard oil, I also added crushed garlic and in future I would add more chilli and other summer veg.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 31/7/2008.

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.


Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

Green Onion Relish (Korean)

6 Aug

Last trip to London I found the Korean area in Merton and the best Korean restaurant I’ve been to so far. A small canteen style restaurant, empty when we arrived (I get hungry early), and ques down the street when we left. This was one of the small dishes or banchan we were offered as we sat down. This one is called pajori or pajuhri in Korean. It was so good I had to try and recreate it with our garden onions once i got back home. It is a lovely dish, simple clean flavours and very easy to prepare. Serve with other small dishes Korean style or as a small side dish or relish to add a lovely touch to any meal.

Wash and trim the onions into 6-8cm lengths then carefull slice into thin threads or shreds, what the French call julienne. Drop the onions into a large bowl of cold water and leave for 20 minutes this will make them crisper and less pungent.

Mix the rest of the ingredients to your taste, use a mild or hot chilli flakes, and balance the sugar to the heat of the chilli and salt of the soy. Season with a good dash of sesame oil and sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately or it can be kept for a few days in the fridge, the relish will wilt but it will still taste great.

  • soy sauce
  • pepper flakes
  • sugar
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sesame oil

Garden Note
I always have green onions in the garden although I don’t bother to grow the traditional ‘spring onions’; in autumn/winter/spring we have the Amish and Walking Onions, in spring the overwintered onions and onion blancs, and then in summer and autum the thinings from the new crops of white onions and red torpedos.

Tomato and White Bean Soup

2 Aug

This is such a lovely soup. Tangy iron-rich tomatoes with almost sweet, velvety white beans to give it an extra special dimension. Great in the summer when there are plenty of tomatoes in the garden or market and particularly good if you grown your own shelling beans.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 500g tomato pulp (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g fresh white beans or 100g dry (steeped and boiled til soft)
  • 1 litre stock or bean liquor
  • 1-3 bay leaf
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh Herbs such as: thym, parsley, rosemary or oregano

Fry the onion in a little olive oil with a dash of salt until soft then add the garlic and when it is aromatic add the tomatoes, stock and bayleaf . Season well and cook for 30 minutes or so. At this point you can liquidise the tomato soup, or pass it through a sieve for a smooth soup, if you like it with a bit of texture leave it as it is and add the beans and fresh herbs. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender and serve scattered with a few more herbs.

TIP This soup is also a great storecupbaord staple using dried beans and bottled tomatoes.

Variation you can also use green beans, the long French types or runner beans cut into short lengths.