Silky Smooth Carrot and Coriander Soup

Thick, creamy, warming, and gloriously yellow. This soup is brought out of the realm of the ordinary with its silky smooth texture, and subtle use of coriander and lemon zest. It’s one of those dishes that has you trying to analyze the ingredients, if you don’t already know them. So, the trick is to take your time frying the carrot and onion; make sure all the ingredients are totally soft before pureeing, and err on the side of caution with the coriander and lemon zest. Start with the lesser amount and check the flavor before adding more. The flavor should be uplifting and curious, and certainly not bland! The same goes for the carrots. If they’re fresh and sweet, you might not want any sugar at all! If they’re a bit older, then a little help from the granular white stuff is appreciated …. but taste before you add; this is not a sweet soup. If the carrots are distinctly old and tasting soapy, use them for something else instead.

soup

1 tbsp vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1 large onion, diced
2 – 4 tsp ground coriander seed
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lemon
1 ½ pints of water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tsp lemon juice
1 – 3 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (that’s right, no salt!)

Melt the margarine in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned. They should start to sizzle instead of steaming, after a total of about 15 minutes.
Stir in the coriander and lemon zest, and warm through for a minute.
Add water and cashews, and bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes or until all ingredients are soft.
Add the lemon juice and other seasonings.
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.
Check seasoning, reheat, and serve.

Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower Curry)

When eating out, curry is so often a good option for me. A decent curry house doesn’t have problems substituting oil for ghee and coconut milk for cream, being vegetarian is always understood, and wheat flour isn’t used in everything the way it is used in western cooking. They do, however, have a tendency to use much more fat than I could possibly contemplate while cooking at DSC_0001home, which is probably a really good reason for cooking my own! If you want to make yours ‘richer’ (and I don’t dispute that it tastes good!), then by all means increase the oil used to a couple of tablespoons per pan, but I don’t think it really needs it. It does benefit greatly from the use of fresh ginger and coriander, though. I peel my ginger by scraping a knife blade firmly over the surface, and I like to use a micro-plane to grate it, as this tends to separate out the fibrous parts that can be a little unpleasant. I also keep it vegetarian by discarding the last part so I don’t grate my fingers!

I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet to get intimidated by long lists of spices. This curry recipe, however, is relatively short and remarkably quick to make, cooking in only a little longer than it takes the potato to soften. One pan for veggies, one pan for sauce, and one pan for rice if you’re serving that too. This curry is mild in heat, and the flavors of the vegetables are still evident through the permeating spice flavor. This is a good starter curry for both cook and diner. Delicious!

This serves 3 – 4

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp coconut or other cooking oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped

12 oz potato, (2 smallish bakers) peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
12 oz cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 square inch fresh ginger, peeled, and minced or micro-planed

1 cup (~8 oz) chopped, tinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon honey / agave nectar (for vegan option)
1/2 tsp tamarind paste, or 1 tsp lemon juice, if tamarind is unavailable

Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Measure out the mustard powder, cumin, coriander, and garam masala, into a small bowl.

If you’re serving rice with your curry, now is a good time to put the water on to boil!

Warm 1/2 the fat in a frying pan, and gently fry the onion over medium/low heat until completely soft and starting to brown.

While the onions are cooking, warm the other 1/2 of the fat in a saucepan, and gently fry the cauliflower and potato for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Coating the vegetables in oil will help them to hold their shape during the simmering process.
Add the turmeric, and stir until it evenly coats the vegetables and has warmed through.
Add 3/4 cup (6 fl oz) of water and the salt to the potato/cauliflower, bring to a simmer, cover, and steam gently until the veggies are barely cooked.

Once the onions have browned, add the garlic and ginger, stir and allow to warm through for a minute.
Add the dried spices, stir, and allow them to warm and become fragrant.
Add the tomato, 1/2 cup (~4 fl oz) water, honey, and tamarind.
Simmer until the tomato chunks break down slightly.

Add the onion/tomato mixture to the cooked potato and cauliflower along with a couple of tablespoons of chopped, fresh coriander, and simmer uncovered for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning for salt.

Serve hot, garnished with more coriander, and rice or GF naan bread.

Creamy Onion Soup

My daughter has been horribly ill for a few days now, but when asked if there was ANYTHING she could eat, she asked for this soup. It’s been ages since I made it, but it is a very comforting, warming soup, so I wasn’t so very surprised when she asked, and it is so very easy to make. I have a vague notion all the onion was good for dealing with the infection, too.

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1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled & chopped small
1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup raw cashews or slivered almonds
dash of cayenne pepper (optional, and to taste)
3/4 – 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 cup white wine)
dash of nutmeg

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

Fry the onion over a medium heat until the onion is a golden.

Add 2 cups (16 fl oz) water, the potato pieces, the thyme, and the nuts.

Simmer until the potato has cooked: about 10 minutes

Add the remaining ingredients, and blend with an immersion or worktop blender.

Return the soup to the saucepan to reheat.

Use 1 cup (8 fl oz) water to rinse out/off the blender into the soup.

Check for seasoning and consistency and adjust to taste with salt, pepper, or water.

Serve hot.

Variation: Warm some garlicky fried cauliflower in the soup, after blending.

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

This dish is courtesy of some fine fellows down at the Fallbrook Mushroom Company, who periodically drop a few (large) boxes of shiitake mushrooms off at a Bank of America down in Temecula. I get to take a load home, and experiment! Shiitake mushrooms are quite different to regular mushrooms in my mind. Although they taste fairly similar, I don’t think you can rinse them like normal mushrooms, and the stems are really chewy. In this dish, I removed the stalks, but I didn’t throw them away, as they are wonderful in veggie burgers!

This risotto is an uncomplicated, richly mushroom-y supper. A really personal pleasure.

shiitake risotto

Serves 2 well
1 tbsp margarine
8 oz of shittake mushrooms
1 tbsp margarine
1 cup arborio rice or similar short grain white rice
4 tbsp mushroom powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 pint white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
black or white truffle oil garnish

Prepare the mushrooms by wiping any dust/dirt off them with a paper towel. Remove the stems. If the mushrooms are fairly small, leave them whole, otherwise, quarter them.
Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Add the mushrooms, and fry for about 5 minutes until softened.
In a second pan, warm 2 1/2 cups of water, with the mushroom powder, salt, pepper, and wine.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan, and put to one side.
In the mushroom pan, melt the second tbsp of margarine; add the rice, and stir frequently until the rice is all coated with fat and turning translucent.
Add about 1 cup of the warmed water mixture to the rice, and stir frequently until the water is almost completely absorbed.
Keep adding the warmed water mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, and allowing each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding the next. Repeat until all the warmed water mixture has been added.
Check the rice is cooked; if necessary, add another 1/2 cup water and continue cooking.
Stir in the cooked mushrooms.
Serve with optional (and highly recommended) black or white truffle in olive oil garnish.

Mushroom Pate

Daughter #2 loves mushrooms. She also likes a bit of variation in her school lunches, so I have introduced this recipe to her repertoire. Mushroom pate is pretty quick to make, and squishes down nicely in sandwiches. It’s a lightly peppery, distinctly mushroom-y affair, good enough to serve to guests, but not to those who don’t like mushrooms.

Pate on toast

Vegetarian, mushroom pate, here served on teff toast.

1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 large (or 1/2 a medium) onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
5oz firm tofu
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp mushroom powder
1 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Sauté the onion in the margarine for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and thyme, and sprinkle with the 1/4 tsp salt to draw out their water. Once the onions are cooked, and the mushrooms are softened, add the garlic to warm through.

Put all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until a rough paste has been attained.

Return the pate to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes to drive off excess moisture, stirring frequently.

Check for seasoning, press into serving bowls, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

(Nearly) Instant Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Sauce

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Rich Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Sauce with GF Pasta

This pasta sauce is rich with a very pronounced taste of tomatoes. It’s one of those instantly ready ones that can be made in advance, but is still good enough for entertaining, along with a light, green salad of some description.

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup fresh or chopped tinned tomatoes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
4 large fresh basil leaves
extra basil and diced tomato for garnish

Blend everything together with 6 fl oz (3/4 cup) water until completely smooth.
Stir into cooked pasta. This amount is sufficient for 1 lb of dry GF pasta.

Crumbly, Tangy, Dairy Free Feta

Moist and tangy, this faux feta is very quick to make, and strongly flavored like the dairy cheese. I like it best on crackers and tortilla chips, though in a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes is good, too.

The rationale behind this recipe is to simmer the tofu in liquid for at least 5 minutes, so that its texture firms up and the harsher vinegar notes are driven off, and to infuse the tofu with the flavorings in the process. It then needs to cool (and continue drying) to firm up.

My miso is a bit lumpy so I quickly blend it with the other ingredients to make a homogenous liquid before adding to the tofu, but if yours is smooth already, you can just whisk the flavoring ingredients together.

The miso I use has a light color, and a rich winey flavor. It isn’t particularly salty, so you may need to adjust the recipe to suit your miso.

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This quantity makes 1 – 2 servings of Feta. If you have cause to increase the batch size, make sure to use a large frying pan so the juices have plenty of room to evaporate.

1 tbsp chickpea or other light colored miso
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1/3 packet tofu

DSC_0001Blend the miso, salt, vinegar, and nutritional yeast together with 4 fl oz (1/2 cup) of water.

Heat the margarine in a small frying pan, then roughly mash the tofu with the back of a fork into the margarine.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, and simmer until the water evaporates and the tofu starts to sizzle in the fat. Drying FetaAvoid breaking up the tofu lumps too much.

Fry for a couple of minutes to drive off any excess water, stirring continuously, then turn off the heat.

Scoop all together to form a block, and leave in the pan to cool and solidify. (~1/2 hour) Pack into a small container and store in the fridge as necessary.