Dec 2013

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

One more day to go before we see the year 2013 off and welcome the new and exciting year 2014. By now I am ready for a detox! Yes, I have overindulged and under-exercised. There was chocolate, or shall I say there were chocolates, wine, meals consisting of several dishes (even though healthy they were rather gargantuan). And than there were yesterday’s cocktails provided by my friend. She makes cocktails by emptying her bar contents into a jug and topping this concoction with some juice. I do admit they were unassumingly lethal yet delicious.

Do I feel a degree of guilt? Sure I do, but no point dwelling on this, I am detoxing starting the 2nd of January. And recording what I eat on this blog will definitely help the cause. But first, we have our New Years Eve celebration ahead of us. We always have lots of nibbles like sushi, dips, olives, little sandwiches and lots of other things. The aim is to fill up our plates with stacks of bits and bobs and keep going back for more.

My baby peppers with cashew cheese look indulgent and are (of course) dairy free. They are very easy to make. You can even play “guess what’s in the filling” with your guests (just make sure they don’t have a cashew nut allergy!). If you feel brave you can use some mild chillies instead of baby peppers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! MAKE YOUR YEAR 2014 FILLED WITH LOVE, LAUGHTER, HEALTH AND DELICIOUS PLANT BASED FOODS.


stuffed-baby-peppers

BABY PEPPERS WITH CASHEW CHEESE

1 cup cashew nuts
1/4 (60ml) + 1tbs water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
salt
lemon juice
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
10 olives, chopped into small pieces
small handful of basil, chop finely
14 small sweet peppers

  1. Soak the cashews in water for about 2 hours.
  2. Drain the soaked cashews, place in a blender together with 1/4 cup water and the nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend till smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). You will have to scrape the sides of the blender few times. If the mixture is too thick you can add extra tablespoon of water.
  3. Put the cashew cheese into a bowl. Season with salt, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil.
  4. Cut the tops of the baby peppers and carefully scoop out the seeds. Using a small spoon (or if you fancy a piping bag) fill the peppers with the cashew cheese.
  5. Chill before serving.

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EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS

EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS

Our kids have been counting days till Christmas. In just a few days I will have several pots on the stove, both ovens on the go, sink full of dirty dishes and hopefully a glass of wine somewhere near. Following the Czech tradition I cook my main meal on Christmas Eve. This gives my children a taste of Czech Christmas and I get to do minimum cooking on Christmas Day.

Recently Daily Mail online posted an article on the healthiness of European Christmas dinners. The Czechs are proudly standing at number 2 surpassed only by France ( I think the use of foie gras calls for disqualifications). I do have reservation about the way this survey was conducted, but one thing I know for sure the Czechs do not stuff themselves silly on the day. Growing up our Christmas meal consisted of split pea soup (virtually fat free), breaded fried carp (special white sausages for my fish bone phobic Dad) and potato salad. For dessert we always had stewed apple compote with a few walnuts for a crunch. After dinner the homemade cookies would finally make an appearance (they are usually made a week ahead and nobody is allowed to have a crumb).

One thing that didn’t seem to feature on out table were vegetables (apart from few vegetables in the potato salad). Daily mail mentions sauerkraut but I don’t remember ever eating at Christmas. These days my Christmas fishless/turkeyless dinner has been adapted to feature both Czech and English elements. Split pea soup is a must but so are Brussels sprouts. Every year I try different ways to make Brussels interesting and this year I am going to cook them with walnuts.

The recipe below was a quick test batch that serves 3-4 but if you are feeding a crown do double or triple recipe (no need to triple the coconut oil of course). Serve hot straight from the pan. I can guarantee you will want to make these more than just at Christmas.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2524558/British-Christmas-dinner-ranked-unhealthiest-Europe.html

brussels-with-walnuts

EASY BRUSSELS WITH WALNUTS
Easily doubled or tripled. Coconut oil doesn’t need to be tripled. For an oil free version add the garlic and walnuts to the brussels when they are softened, cook for couple of minutes. You will not get the golden brown colour but it will still taste delicious.

Serves 3-4

ingredients
2 cups of small Brussels sprouts
2 tsp coconut oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped garlic
handful of walnuts (about 1/2 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

method
  1. Pull of any damaged leaves of the Brussels sprouts and halve them lengthways.
  2. Put the Brussels sprouts into a wok (or a deep frying pan) add enough water to barely cover them and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer till the sprouts are tender, about 8minutes. Most of the water should have evaporated by this time.
  3. Add 2 tsp coconut oil, the garlic and walnuts. The Brussels will start gently frying in the coconut oil. Cook till some of the Brussels turn golden brown.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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KALE TARKA DAL

KALE TARKA DAL

Last night, over some delicious food at our friends, we talked about our favourite cuisines. I couldn’t make up my mind, I like Italian for its delicious simplicity, Thai for its balance of flavours, Indian for its spiciness... Than there is Japanese, Czech, Moroccan, Syrian... I guess I just like delicious food.

I can spend hours watching cookery shows, chefs adding foams, smears of sauces, gels and jellies, freeze dried petals. We have elevated cooking to a form of art, it has become more than just food. However, in the end of the day, that's precisely what it is - food. Us mere home cooks will never use dry ice to make ice cream or jellify pea puree into pea like spheres. This doesn’t mean that a home cooked meal is somehow inferior to a 9 course tasting menu at a manor house restaurant.

As a home cook I love to look for inspiration from traditional cooking all over the world. No Michelin star presentation, no sommeliers, no pressed white table cloths or polished silver. Just simple nutritions flavoursome food. Dal is one of my favourite dishes. It is so comforting, easy and satisfying. It also is the perfect veggie meal, full of protein (25%), rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc. No wonder it is a daily staple all over India.

Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my love of dal therefore I tend to cook it for myself for lunch or as a part of an Indian meal. I cooked this dal for my friend for lunch couple weeks ago and she has been reminding me to share the recipe online ever since. I know kale is not something you see in a traditional Indian dal but it works beautifully (so does spinach or Swiss chard) and as you may know by now I think there are never enough recipes for kale :)

mung-dal

KALE TARKA DAL

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a part of a Indian Thali style meal

ingredients
1 and 1/2cup split mung dal
3 cups of water
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
ground black pepper
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 oz (120g) kale leaves (weight without the tough stalks)

for the tarka

1 Tbs coconut oil
1 small onion (or shallot), finely sliced
1 chilli, finely sliced
1/2 tsp nigella seed
1/2tsp cumin seed
20 curry leaves

coriander leaves to garnish

kale-dal

method
  1. In a large sauce pan combine the mung dal, water, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes (add more water if the dal seems too dry) or until the lentils are cooked through, falling apart. The consistency should be of a thick soup or porridge.
  2. Next add the kale and cook covered for 5 minutes or until the kale is soft.
  3. While the kale is cooking, in a small frying pan (or s heavy sauce pan) heat the coconut oil and fry the onion and chilli for 2 minutes (the onion should be brown) than add the whole spices for a minute. Add the onion and spice mix to the dal ( I love the way it sizzles).
  4. Serve garnished with lots of fresh coriander with some brown rice or a chapati on the side.
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