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Indonesian peanut sauce (pindasaus)

This Indonesian-style peanut sauce is much loved by the Dutch in their "adopted" (!) Indonesian taste. It goes really well as a basis for gado gado, and also with many other indonesian dishes. Having never been to Indonesia, I can only claim this is a good match to the sauce we get in the Netherlands!

NOTE: If you have "kecap manis", then use it! -- you can replace half the soy sauce with kecap manis, and reduce the sugar (leaving out perhaps a third of it). That gives a more authentic full flavour. It's not very common in Britain.

Ingredients:

  • 200g peanut butter
  • ~5 tbsp (dark) soy sauce --- you may end up adding more later --- and you could replace half of this with kecap manis
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • ~7 heaped tsp (soft) brown sugar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 100ml (approx!) tamarind juice --- OR 25 ml (approx) tamarind paste

  • 1 clove garlic

  • ~100ml water

If using tamarind "block", remember to prep it first (by soaking the right amount in warm water for a few minutes at least).

In a small blender whizz up everything except for the garlic and the water. You can add a bit of the water, to make it easier to get it out again.

Crush the garlic and fry it in a little veg oil, in a milk pan or similar, just until softened (don't let it burn), Then add the blended mixture and cook it for ten minutes or more, stirring. Add water as it cooks, enough to get the consistency right.

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Vegan pear frangipane tart

My mum's pear frangipane tart is a classic. Rich almondy frangipane, and soft pears, go together really well. Here, I've made a vegan version, partly by adapting Domestic Gothess's frangipane recipe. (Follow that link for lots of photos and tips on the process.)

The rich taste of frangipane is traditionally made with butter and egg. In this version, the egg is replaced by cornflour, flour and aquafaba. Aquafaba is the liquid from a tin of chickpeas (!) and can be whipped up in various ways. Here you do NOT need to whip the aquafaba, it (and the cornflour) simply help to bind the mixture around all that ground almond, plus a bit of baking powder for rise. Instead of butter, it's good to use a vegan "block" butter instead of margarine, to ensure this vegan version has a good rich impression. I used Violife, DG uses Naturli. Non-vegans can use old-fashioned butter.

You get great results using tinned pears in syrup for this tart. Apparently you can also use fresh pears, but that didn't work so well when I tried it (perhaps I should have poached them slightly first?). Anyway, a tin of pears in syrup is great for this.

Makes a single tart good for 8-10 portions.

FOR THE PASTRY:

  • 150 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 35 g ground almonds
  • 35 g icing (powdered) sugar, or caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 g vegan block butter (NOT the spreadable kind), cold and diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp cold vodka (or water)

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 50 g melted vegan block butter
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 30 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 3 g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 55 ml aquafaba or non dairy milk
  • 120 g ground almonds
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • One tin of pears in syrup (230g pears from 410g net, 5 pear-halves)

To make the pastry: mix the flour, almonds, sugar and salt together. Add the butter, cold and diced, and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the vodka/water, bit by bit, mixing with your fingers or a utensil until the pastry comes together in a ball. (You can also do all this in a food processor.)

Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingfilm, and place in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a springform tart tin, about 9 inches / 20 cm diameter.

Take the pastry from the fridge and roll it out to a disc large enough to fill the tin and go up the sides. (If you have to roll it back into a ball and roll it out again, that's fine.) Carefully lift it into the tin. Trim off excess pastry from the top. We probably only need it to be about 1cm deep, but deeper is fine.

Prick the pastry all over the base with a fork, then blind bake it, as follows. Place a sheet of baking paper or tinfoil in that will cover the whole base. Put baking beans (or rice, lentils...) in to fill the floor of the pastry, making sure they go right to the edge. Bake this in the oven for 25 minutes, then take out the baking beans and the baking paper/foil, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes of cooking.

During that last bit of cooking, make the frangipane. Whisk together the melted vegan butter and the sugar, then the flour and cornflour, followed by the aquafaba. Finally, mix in the ground almonds, baking powder, and vanilla/almond extract. I also added some of the juice (30ml?) from the pear tin, to make the frangipane liquid enough to pour a bit more easily, and of course for a bit of flavour.

Now assemble the tart. Take the pastry base out of the oven, and arrange the pear-halves nicely in it, cut side down. I used all five pear-halves in my tin. Pour the frangipane into the gaps where the pears are not, making a nice even layer in the pastry case. Spread it out evenly.

Return to the oven and cook for 30 minutes

Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes before turning out. Serve with cream, plain yogurt, or something like that; the tart is delicious warm or cold. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Rum & soy chickpeas with peppers, plus rice and peas

A Caribbean-inspired easy mid-week dish. The chickpeas go nice and roasty and sticky, flavoured with rum and soy. I served it with rice and peas, an imitation of the classic Caribbean dish, of which you can certainly find more authentic recipes out there. (My rice and peas was in fact a quick imitation of the recipe from Levi Roots.)

You should probably add some chilli sauce somewhere.

Serves 2, takes about 45 minutes plus an optional gap of half an hour while things infuse.

  • For the rice and peas:
    • 160g rice (e.g. basmati)
    • 1 300ml tin coconut milk
    • 1/2 a tin of kidney/black beans
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/4 of an onion
    • 2 cloves
    • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • For the chickpeas:
    • 1 tin chickpeas
    • 1.5 (or 2) bell peppers
    • 75ml dark rum
    • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 a lime

PREPARATION:

Rinse the chickpeas and leave them to drain well.

Put the coconut milk in the pan that you will use for the rice (one that has a tight-fitting lid), and put it on a gentle heat to warm up a bit. Add the onion, cloves and peppercorns - I added all these using an "empty teabag" so I could get them out again. Turn the heat off (it will infuse, for 30 mins or so).

Once you've prepared the coconut milk, put the rice in a sieve and rinse it, then leave it to soak in a big bowl of fresh water for about 20 minutes.

Also put the chickpeas into a mixing bowl, then sprinkle over the sugar, rum, and soy, and mix well. This doesn't have to marinade for long, but it can do.

...At this point it's OK to go away for half an hour or more...

COOKING:

Heat up an oven to 200 C.

Oil a roasting tin. Slice the peppers into long bite-size strips, mix them with the chickpeas, and then spread all of that out in the roasting tin. Put in the oven, to cook for approx 35 minutes, giving a good stir half way through.

Meanwhile, cook the rice and peas. Drain the rice (in a colander or sieve). Warm up the coconut milk again until only just bubbling, then add the thyme, beans, and rice. Give it a stir and then put the lid on. Leave it to cook gently, on the lowest heat you can, for about 20 minutes. Do not stir. When that's done, at the end you can fluff it all up with a fork, put the lid back on, and leave it off the heat while you get the rest ready.

Serve the rice and peas with the chickpea mixture over the top. Garnish with the zest of 1/2 a lime, and serve with perhaps a little salad on the side (e.g. cucumber).

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Vegan sourdough pancakes

These pancakes are lovely - they're quite filling, and very easy to cook. The flavour and texture are excellent: the sourdough starter gives some depth of flavour that might otherwise come from eggs, and the almond helps to balance it. They are not thin crepe-style pancakes, more like American or Dutch style.

You can prepare the batter the night before (and leave it in the fridge), or you can just let it stand for at least 30 minutes. The original recipe suggested that you can leave the batter out overnight to "develop the flavour", but we do NOT recommend that - our sourdough starter is quite active, and so if you leave the batter at room temperature for that long it over-proves and tastes very sour. Instead, pop it in the fridge overnight - that's perfect! Or just make it 30--60 minutes before you need it.

This recipe is based on the pancake recipe from healthienut. It's a good thing to do with sourdough discard, but you can also use fresh starter.

The recipe also uses ground flax or chia seed. You can probably buy it as pre-ground "meal", but I don't have that. Instead, I grind up some chia seeds in a pestle and mortar, and the salt goes in with it (because salt crystals can help to grind things up).

Makes 6 small or 3 large pancakes, good for a hearty brunch for two.

  • 60g sourdough starter
  • 150g cup non-dairy milk
  • 60g cup plain flour or whole wheat flour, or whatever flour you wish to use (I used a mix of plain and wholemeal bread flour, since I didn't have ordinary wholemeal. Plain flour also works fine on its own.)
  • 30g cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp chia OR flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, or any flavourless oil, or margarine

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sourdough starter, milk, and flours until smooth. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for 30 min-1 hour, or cover with clingfilm (or similar) and leave in the fridge overnight.

When you're ready (maybe 15 minutes before time to eat), combine the flax/chia seed meal and water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 min. (You might also pre-heat the pan now, see below.) Then add flax egg to the bowl with the starter along with the rest of the ingredients (sugar, baking powder, salt). Stir until a smooth and slightly thick batter forms.

Heat a large skillet or frying-pan over medium heat. Add a dollop of oil /marge to prevent sticking - not too much. Pour a ladleful of batter on to the skillet (about 50ml?). Spread to a circle with the back of the spoon if needed. Cook until the edges start to become matte (about 1.5 minutes). Flip and cook for an additional minute or until golden brown on each side.

Top with preferred toppings, such as berry compote, fresh fruit, and/or maple syrup. Top tip: blueberries and coconut cream!

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Sourdough vegan English muffins

Foodgeek has some of the best sourdough bread recipes I've found. It's his precise measurements and careful explanations that really enabled us to actually bake good sourdough. You should watch some of his videos.

One of his recipes is for sourdough English muffins. These are great for breakfast, and they're also really handy when you don't have access to an oven, because they're cooked in a pan.

Here I've veganised his recipe. I'm simply switching cow milk for oat milk, but I find you need to reduce the amount of milk (else they become really sticky to work with). I'm also including some tips which for me made it easier to handle everything.

Ingredients

  • 290 g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 15 g sugar
  • 6 g table salt
  • 175 g oat milk
  • 100 g sourdough starter, well fed and risen to its peak For dusting
  • 40 g cornmeal

Instructions

Make the dough: Add the flour, sugar and salt to a bowl. Mix it well with your hands. Then add the milk and the sourdough starter. Mix it until it comes together. Once it gets too stiff dump it out on the kitchen counter and knead it until all the flour has been absorbed into the dough. Then cover the dough and leave to ferment for 8 hours. If it’s very warm you may want to shorten that time.

Next, when the fermentation is done, shape the muffins. I do it differently from him, partly because I don't have a cookie cutter, but also I found it really handy to use a little square of baking paper for each individual muffin. Here's a picture showing how I do it:

My English muffins kit

Use a roasting tin, or anything that you can keep the un-cooked muffins in - it should have high sides, so that when you drape a towel over the top it won't touch the muffins. Cut/rip 10 little squares of baking paper, about 4 inches (10 cm) square. Put them in the roasting tin(s), and dust them with semolina.

For the next step, it will help to have a dish of water available, and occasionally dip the palms of your hands in this bowl - this stops the sticky dough from sticking to you.

Dump the dough out onto the counter or a big chopping board, flatten it a bit, and use 1 or 2 dough scrapers to chop it into 10 equal-sized pieces. (If you don't have scrapers you can do it by hand.) Now, for each piece, with slightly wet hands you can roll and shape it into a flat burger shape, then place it on a piece of baking paper.

Sprinkle the dough with more corn flour. Cover the whole lot loosely with a dish towel and let the muffins rise for an hour.

Cook the muffins:

Put a pan on to medium high heat and let it come up to temperature. Put as many muffins as you can so that they don’t touch each other. You do NOT need to remove the baking paper! You can place them in the pan with the baking paper face up. This makes the whole job easier.

Put a lid over the top of the pan so that the muffins can steam themselves. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until the muffins are golden brown. Then take off the lid, peel off the baking papers, and flip the muffins over and cook them 7-10 minutes on the other side.

Put the muffins on a wire rack and let them cool.

My English muffins, cooling on a wire rack

For a whole lot more detail and a nice video, see Foodgeek's sourdough English muffins recipe.

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Coconut mung dhal

A storecupboard dhal with hints of southern India, inspired loosely by more authentic sources such as this one.

Serves 2, takes about 70 minutes but with a big gap in the middle where you can get on with other things.

  • 100g mung dhal
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 handful methi (fenugreek leaves), or a handful of spinach, kale or other green leaf
  • 1.5 handfuls dessicated coconut

For the tarka:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or some veg oil)
  • 1/4 an onion
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 2--4 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 red chilli (optional)

Take a large frying pan, warmed to medium hot, and toast (dry-fry) the mung dhal in it for about 5 minutes until they smell toasty and turn slightly pink/orange in colour. Keep shuffling them so they don't burn. Then pour them into a sieve (make sure you don't melt it if it's plastic), and rinse and soak them in cold water briefly.

Take a deeper pan with a lid, and warm it up medium hot, with the cinnamon stick in the dry pan. When that's had a minute or so, add the mung beans as well as about 400 ml of water. It needs plenty of water. Also add the turmeric, chilli seeds, asafoetida and salt. Bring this to the boil and then simmer it for about 45 minutes, part-covered with the lid. Make sure it doesn't boil over, but that aside you don't need to worry about it too much.

After 45 minutes the mung dhal should be soft and swollen and the chalky texture should be just about gone. Turn off the heat, and stir in the methi and 1 handful of the dessicated coconut. You can leave this to sit for a while, to absorb -- you can just do the rest whenever you're ready to eat.

When you're almost ready to eat:

If you have a hand blender, use that to blend about a quarter of the mixture in the pan. This gives some thickness without mushing everything. You can also use a potato masher or suchlike. Then, put the dhal back on a very low heat -- do not allow it to boil.

Make the tarka: in a frying pan (perhaps the one you started with!), get the oil nice and hot. Finely slice the onion and the chilli, and put them in to fry until caramelised and a bit crispy. Also add the other tarka ingredients after a couple of minutes.

Serve the dhal in bowls, with the fried tarka sprinkled over the top. Eat with bread (e.g. roti/chapati) or as part of a larger meal.

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Herby-chickeny jackfruit fritters

We had gorgeous jackfruit fritters in a London pub. Somehow, they got them extremely chickeny tasting. Impressive! I had to try and replicate the effect.

So what we're doing here is lovely juicy jackfruit fritters, making sure there's not too much stodgy dough getting in the way. It's flavoured with …

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Levantine aubergine pizza

This flavour combination was fabulous - the hot deep flavour of muhammara (from Turkey/Syria, so I'm told) and the herby zesty za'atar (ours is from Palestine) make a great complement to the classic taste of grilled aubergine. We're not from the Levant so don't take this as authentic, but this …

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Curried roast cauliflower with carrot coriander puree

This was a great dish making a centrepiece of the cauliflower with Indian spicing. I made it up based on something that looked nice on Masterchef. A notable non-cauliflower-lover gave it top marks so I'm sure you'll love it too.

Serves 2, takes about 50 minutes, plus extra time at …

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Lovely vegan carrot date and walnut cake

I veganised a recipe handed down from my mum, and it's great. It's very soft and moist with a dark sweetness (from the dark sugar) that goes really well with the other flavours. Plus it keeps for a good while, and easy to make from mostly store-cupboard ingredients.

I've been …

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