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Pea and dill Dutch croquette (kroket)

Dutch people love a croquette ("kroket") and so it was only a matter of time before I attempted making one!

The Dutch croquette is typically eaten on a bread roll with mustard or mayo, and is sizeable enough to be a light lunch. The outside should be crispy and the inside quite liquid and oozy, so that when you crunch it in your bread roll it becomes a mess of sauce and crunchy bits. Many croquettes aren't vegetarian of course, and the standard vegetarian version is usually something like potato-and-mixed-veg.

This version is inspired by a flavour combination we saw on TV - pea and dill - and it's lovely and light, fresh, and spring-y. Should I confess that we saw it on the Dutch version of Bake-off?

  • 3 medium-to-small potatoes, peled
  • 75g vegan butter block
  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for coating
  • 1/4 of a small leek, or 1/2 a small onion, finely diced
  • a small handful of chives, finely chopped
  • a large handful of dill, finely chopped
  • a few leaves of mint, finely chopped
  • 200g peas (frozen is fine - you don't need to completely defrost them, just get them out at the start of the cooking)
  • 400ml plant milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg (or some plant milk thickened with cornflour)
  • 80g breadcrumbs

Chop the potatoes into medium-sized cubes and put them in a big pan of hot water. Bring it to the boil and boil the potatoes for 15 minutes. You can prepare everything else while the potatoes are boiling - there's no need to worry about the potatoes too much, they need to be just need to be properly softened to make a soft mash. When the potatoes are done you can just drain them and leave them until you're ready.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce. In a saucepan on a medium heat, melt the vegan butter and add the flour. Stir this all around with a whisk and cook it for about 5 minutes, keeping it moving, until the raw flour smell has gone (careful not to burn). It should be quite a thick goo in the pan. Add a bit of the plant milk and mix it with the whisk, then a bit more, then all the plant milk, and make sure everything is evenly mixed. Allow it to continue to cook gently for a little while, while you prepare the flavourings. This should be quite a thick white sauce - it needs to be fairly thick so that it will hold its shape later.

Now is a good time to finely chop the dill, chives, mint and leek, if you haven't already.

The potatoes should be done and drained. Return them to the big pan you cooked them in, and mash them with a potato masher. Then add the peas and mash a bit more, to crush them lightly and distribute them through.

Add the dill, chives, mint, leek, and salt and pepper to the white sauce, making sure it's all mixed quite evenly. Then pour the white sauce all into the mashed potato pot, and mix to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Leave this to cool in the pan until it's cool enough to work by hand, probably 1 hour. At that point you can also taste to check the seasoning. I needed to add more dill and salt+pepper than I had originally expected.

Next, it's time to add the breadcrumb coating. Set up a "breading station": 3 bowls side-by-side, with (a) flour (b) egg/plant-milk (c) breadcrumbs. You now need to take portions of the main mixture, perhaps golf-ball sized, and form them into little cylinders. How you do that is up to you! We did it by hand, which is messy, for sure... Other people on the internet have used a piping bag. For the Dutch kroket it should be a few centimetres long, which is too long to be shaped using two spoons as seen in some other receipes.

Anyway, you make your little cylinders, then with each one you roll it in flour then egg/plantmilk then breadcrumbs, to get a good coating. You could repeat the egg and breadbrumb stages to get a thicker crust. You might be able to get away with just breadcrumbs, depending on how sticky your mixture is.

Put these breaded cylinders into the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up.

Using a deep fryer, or a pan fille dno more than 1/3 with vegetable oil, heat up the oil until it's hot. 180 C is the official temperature to use, but I don't have a way to measure that. Instead, I pop a tiny bit of the breadcrumb into the oil: it should be hot enough that the breadcrumb fizzles and floats to the top rather than just sinking. Then, put a batch of krokets carefully into the oil, and cook them for about 4 minutes. Make sure they're well-covered in oil. Be careful not to splash oil, and watch out for exploding krokets (which can sometimes happen, I'm told!). When they're nicely brown and crispy-looking all over, take them out and drain on kitchen paper, while you do the next batch.

OK! Now when your kroket is ready, serve it on a soft bread roll! This kroket does not go well with mustard, but a bit of mayo would be alright if that's what you like. But the delicate light flavour of the pea and dill should hopefully come through nicely!

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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 …
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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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